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What Is This White Stuff On My Azalea?

Ask the Expert: what would get the white fungus off azaleas , leaf the azalea has white on them , on the leafs is it a fungus , what can spray on them will mild soapy water work. Janet

Flower Shop Network Plant Expert Reply:

First we need to determine if you really have a fungus. Is the white substance powdery and can you wipe it off. If so, you have a fungus called powdery mildew. Soapy water doesn’t work on fungus. You will need a fungicide. Your local garden center will have a general purpose fungicide that will work for well on powdery mildew.

If the white on the leaves is more of a lacy pattern on the leaf that can not be wiped away, your azalea has been attacked by an insect called lace bug. Soapy water doesn’t usually control this type of sucking insect. However, if a more organic approach is what you want – try it. If it doesn’t work, you will need an insecticide.

You have two choices when it comes to insecticide control for lace bug – topical or systemic. The topical insecticides work more quickly, but won’t protect as long. Systemic insecticides are slow acting, but longer lasting. Your local garden center will carry both of these products.

Keep in mind, the damage caused by the insects will not change. The plant will produce new leaves and they will eventually cover the damaged ones. So, it is important to keep the lace bugs from attacking these new leaves.

If you would like to read more about the lace bug on Azaleas, the Clemson Cooperative Extension Service has a great article: Azalea & Rhododendron Insect Pests

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  1. I think I had the lace bug on mine – would removing the affected leaves help keep it from spreading? Or do you have to use the pesticide to kill them all?

  2. If you have a few leaves that are damaged, you can remove them. However since the problem is an insect that can easily move from leaf to leaf, removing the leaves won’t keep the insect from damaging other leaves. Unfortunately the pesticide is the best way to rid the plant of the problem. Keep in mind next year’s growth should cover all the damaged leaves from this year.

  3. What does this white sack looks like cotton candy around my azaleas?

    I have lots of dead branches….what should I do?

  4. Andrea.. Please email us a photo of your azalea at social@flowershopnetwork.com and we can analyze it further. It is possibly scale or another insect to blame.

  5. Lisa Mey says:

    I have this white stuff on an encore azalea and also a Japanese maple that is about 6 ft away
    What is it and how to treat it.

  6. Lisa Mey,
    You have cottony scale and will need an insecticide. Your local garden center should have one safe to use on your plants.

  7. I have white specks on my buds and my buds won’t bloom they fall off. What can I do to fix this.

  8. Miroslava Casiano says:

    What you can do Kalene is keep the lace bugs away. Like we mentioned in the article, you can look for organic ways to keep them away or opt for an insecticide. Topical insecticides work quickly but won’t protect as long. Systemic insecticides are slow acting but longer lasting. Be sure to check your local garden center to see what products they carry.

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