Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lacebug…coming to a Rhododendron near you?

During our recent Yard, Garden & Patio Show here in Portland I had the good sense to attend a lecture by (beloved) local garden personality Mike Darcy. Before he began the presentation (the topic was “bringing color to the garden”) he shared a warning about lacebug, noting that people were bringing him damaged leaves from their plants over and over again asking what they could do.

This was eerily familiar to me because lacebug is what brought down the huge Rhododendron in my garden last year. Mike identified two ways of dealing with this pest. First you can use a horticultural oil but it is necessary to spray the underside of the leaves, as you might imagine that is a tad difficult. Secondly you can use Bayer Advanced Garden Tree & Shrub Insect Control. The key is to catch the infestation earlier than I did; since by the time I noticed something was wrong with my plant about 90% of its leaves were toast. There is no saving the leaves once they look like this…

By treating the plant your insuring the new growth is healthy. As you know I “treated” my plant by getting rid of it, that’s probably not an option for everyone. After hearing this warning the first thing I did when I got home was look at my remaining Rhody to see how it was doing, so far so good.

Not such a happy ending for my neighbor though. We were standing in his driveway chatting the other evening when my gaze turned to his Rhody…

And then I looked closer…

And I had to tell him he had a problem.

He decided to treat the plant and save it, most of it still looks good so I bet he’ll be successful.

I’ve been looking at other Rhody’s around town as I walk, it’s about 50/50…those with some issues and those with none. Of course it’s hard to really get a good look as it seems most Rhododendrons are planted as foundation shrubs and I’m not comfortable walking up next to people’s houses to check out their plants! Want to learn more? Here’s a page that the local Master Gardeners sent me.

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