What is the powdery whitish substance on the leaves of my crape myrtle tree and how do I get rid of it?
The white substance you're seeing is probably powdery mildew, a fungus that appears as a white dusting on leaf surfaces. This is particularly prevalent on crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) in hot, humid weather. It won't kill your tree, but it is unsightly, causes early leaf drop and leaf distortion, and won't go away without treatment. Spray a mix of 1 tablespoon of baking soda and a few drops of dish detergent in 1 gallon of water to get the problem under control. Or you could apply a commercial fungicide from a garden center. Clean up and discard fallen leaves promptly. Improve air circulation around infected plants to prevent infection from reoccurring. You could also remove your susceptible plant and replace it with a mildew-resistant one such as 'Catawba', 'Natchez', 'Yuma', 'Zuni', or 'Tonto'.
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