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Plant F-ing: My Dahlias Have Jock Itch

Photo by Lindsay William-Ross/LAist
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Plant F-ing is a new Ask LAist series about growing food and flora at home--especially for those renters who do not have access to the luxuries of a yard and only have windows and patios to work with. If you've got a question, please send it to editor[@] and our in-house garden guru, aka Hand of Gardener, will answer (between rants, perhaps).

I’m not going to wait until one of you gets your compost together to ask me an important question. I’m not going to hear the 4th query on “why do I suck at gardening?” (A: worms hate you). This column needs to be responsive, sure… but let me ask a question that you should be asking: Why do my dahlias have jock itch?

By “Jock itch” I mean powdery mildew. It is a nasty little fungus that pops up this time of year. Late in the season when night temperatures drop and the marine layer settles in… it’s jock itch time for your dahlias, grapes, or squash leaves. The Valley gets it bad, Venice and South bay too. Nighttime moisture is generally bad for your garden and your… er, um “parts” both. Come on, I know you know what I’m sayin’. Powdery mildew--as it’s more commonly called--looks like it sounds. If you have a fuzzy, white/gray film on your plants… that’s it. On your parts...wrong column. Anyway, PM knocks down the producing abilities of all your plants and you’ll need to treat it sooner than later.