Dead branches on azaleas - Knowledgebase Question

Clarksville, Te
Avatar for skipandann
Question by skipandann
November 3, 2010
Have found some dead branches on my azaleas but do not see any insects, but have black blotches on leaves. Other parts look healthy still. Should I cut the dead branches off?

Answer from NGA
November 3, 2010
I'd prune off the obviously dead branches and then look closely at the leaves with the black blotches. If the black is on the surface of the leaves and you can scrape it off with your fingernail or wash it off, it's sooty mold which is the result of insect feeding. Sucking insects such as scale, mealybugs or aphids excrete a sticky substance called honeydew. When this matter ages it becomes black and is called sooty mold. Carefully check the stems of your azalea for bumps (scale insects), or cottony tufts (mealybugs). It's too late in the season to see aphids so if you don't find scales or mealybugs, the cause is most likey aphids feeding on the new growth last spring. Insecticidal soap will usually control the pests so watch your plant carefully next spring for the pests and spray them with insecticidal soap. Best wishes with your azaleas.

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