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Old 08-12-2011, 10:44 AM
Location: Williston, VT
247 posts, read 385,286 times
Reputation: 177


I planted an azalea bush this past spring. It took to the spot very well and looked lovely and green. Then we had some beetle issues (japanese beetles, I believe) that devoured the leaves on the top portion of the plant. I thought I would have to trim it back at some point to make it look pretty again, but the bottom half looked great so I let it go. Now I think those beetles have made a return, they aren't as noticeable as they were but I've seen a few (or something that resembles them), and the rest of the leaves have been devoured. The plant itself looks like a large stick structure. The branches haven't wilted and they aren't brittle, but is it a goner? What do I do? Thank you so much!
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Old 08-18-2011, 03:27 PM
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so there are no leaves left at all?

if the branches aren't brittle it seems to still be alive; chances are it will go dormant and make a comeback in spring...
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Old 08-20-2011, 10:24 AM
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Water it. Give it some Miracid and maybe some Magnesium Sulfate. They are an acid loving plant. You may not have any flowers next year as the buds form in late summer/fall. The roots are not very deep so deep watering is not necessary. Mulch helps.
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Old 08-23-2011, 02:24 PM
Location: Williston, VT
247 posts, read 385,286 times
Reputation: 177
I was hoping for an "it's still alive!" post! That makes me happy. I've been watering and hoping. I will try miracid and magnesium sulfate. Thank you for the tips!!
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Old 08-24-2011, 01:01 PM
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Without any pictures and other information it would be nearly impossible to say it was alive. Japanese Beetles are long gone (they don't "come back" and are only actively chewing for about a 4 week period, mostly June for much of the part of the USA they have spread to so I suspect it never was Japanese beetles and your problem won't be solved with over Miracle Gro which seems to be everyone's *solution* to plant problems lately.

If you can catch whatever bug it is that you think is causing the damage, take it to your local county Cooperative extension for ID. Be sure to look for Lacewings and caterpillars which are the more common defoliaters of azaleas. Take a good picture of the damaged azalea along if you can't cut off a twig or two. You need to eliminate the pest or it will likely be an ongoing problem that will, if it hasn't already, kill the bush. Sometimes if the bugs that have chewed on a plant are eliminated, and the plant still has healthy root stock it will re-leaf. If you see signs of budding new leaves you can trim some of the longer branches back down and the azalea will fill in from the bottom. This happens with winter frost kill where the ends of the stems die out but the lower portions of each branch sends out new leaves and eventually new stems.

If the azaleas have never been fed a very dilute amount of fertilizer might help with encouraging growth but experts in azaleas will tell you too much fertilizer, especially in the fall can result in increases in pests like azalea white fly and lace bugs. Without a positive ID on what is eating the plant you run the risk of making the problem worse. In general azaleas need very little fertilizer if they have a good organic mulch and the soil is not more alkaline since they prefer neutral to slightly acid soils.

Since I am not sure of where you live your climate conditions are a mystery but may well play a part in what is wrong. Azaleas suffer from over and under watering by leaf loss. If you live in a hot climate too much sun as spring turns to summer can be enough to cause leaf drop.

I hope this gives you some useful directions to take and you can save your azalea.
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