azalea leaf pest

pwk5017

Shohin
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Hello, i collected this azalea along with 4 others last august. 3/5 are doing very well. However, 2 look like the pictures display. A plant that is alive, but far from thriving. Can someone help? Am i dealing with a fungus or is the plant in shock from the collection? These are very big azaleas so i want to do anything/everything to get them back into tip top shape. Thank you!
 

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Brian Van Fleet

Pretty Fly for a Bonsai Guy
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I've collected 40 or so azaleas over the last 10 years, and have always had better luck when I cut them back hard--to only the selected trunk line(s) and grow new branches on them over the course of the next few years.

Use plenty of organic soil if they're in the ground; top-dress with compost and pine bark. Don't let them flower for a few years to get them growing strong.

The tree in the third photo looks like it's pretty dry; in the middle photo, it's at least showing some new growth above last year's red leaves.

The white, pitted leaf surfaces are probably caused by azalea lace bugs. They suck the sap and chlorophyl out of the leaves, weaking the tree considerably. Look at the undersides of the leaves, are they sticky? Do you see droppings and little moth-like bugs with clear & black-speckled wings? If you have them, they are frustratingly hard to get rid of with organics. A member of our club recommends disyston (sp), added right to the soil. It's a systemic that he swears by. I haven't tried it, but he says the stuff works, but is pretty strong...use a mask and gloves.

Good luck!
 

Dav4

Drop Branch Murphy
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I'm no expert, but the browning leaves may be indicative of a root problem. Azaleas like water, but they are very sensitive to over watering, too. I know that, in Japan, when azaleas are dug from the growing fields, they are bare rooted. Is it possible there is still a portion of native soil in the root ball that is staying too wet. I'm assuming you are using a light, fast draining soil in your pots, again, assuming they are potted.

Dave
 

pwk5017

Shohin
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Yeah, i have had a problem with lacebugs in the past. I haven't noticed any lace bugs on these particular plants though. The original rootball is still native soil. Since i had to quickly collect them in august(obviously not prime collecting time) i put the undisturbed rootballs in largest nursery containers i had sitting around(25 gal). These two plants seemed to be struggling compared to the others so i decided not to mess with the roots for fear it would be the kiss of death for them. Should i attempt some form of a repot now? i have taken special care of these plants not to overwater since they are in a heavier soil. Perhaps i have not been watering enough?
 

Brian Van Fleet

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If they were mine, I'd try to carefully pop them out of the 25 g. pots and put them in the ground in a shady spot...tease out the edges of the roots a little, and aerate the rest of the ball with a chopstick, and try to work some coarse bonsai soil or pine bark into the holes. Good luck!
 

pwk5017

Shohin
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Thanks Brian. I agreed with your advice and since the next week here is cloudy,cool and rain i decided now was as good a time as ever to mess with the roots a little and put them in the ground. I guess we will see if it works.
 
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