Azalea Problems - Knowledgebase Question

Tulsa, OK
Question by cdlogan5
September 19, 1998
We planted 5 azaleas two year ago on the east side of our house. Through our drought this summer, we have kept them well watered. However, we recently lost one plant that had an orange/rust coloring on the leaves. It eventually killed it. What can I do to prevent my other plant from doing the same thing? What is causing this? Do I need to have my soil tested? I have also been spraying Ortho Orthene at 2 mo. intervals for a white spot on the leaves.


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Answer from NGA
September 19, 1998

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Many azaleas like growing in shady areas and others prefer direct sunshine. If yours are shade-loving, they'll thrive on the east side of your home. If they're not getting the sunlight they require, your azaleas will be stressed enough to develop some insect or disease problems. Try to find out which ones you have so you'll know whether they're in the right places. An orange/rust color on the leaves could indicate a fungal disease. This type of disease seems to get a foothold on plants that are overcrowded, or that are in too shady an area. At this point you can prune off the infected plant parts, or use a good garden fungicide to stop the spread of the disease. Orthene is an insecticide and will have no effect against diseases. If the white spots are insects, the chemical is a good choice. If the spots are a disease, which I suspect, applications of Orthene will make no difference at all. I use chemicals only when it's an absolutely-necessary-nothing-else-works situation. Why not try pruning your plants to improve air circulation? Be sure to remove and destroy any infected plant material so you don't risk spreading the disease to other, healthy plants.

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