Sound Solutions Organic Pest Control
NO Poisons Ever! Environmentally Sensible Pest Management Since 1989
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Rhododendron Ailments


   Damage from a Strawberry Root Weevil

HYBRID RHODY MILDEW: First appeared in our area in the early 1990’s. This is an imported disease originating in the British Isles and first appeared on the east coast of the. A quarantine was put in place to help stop the spread west. East Coast commercial growers were told not to sell susceptible varieties or affected products west of the Rocky Mountains. Rhody Mildew entered the Pacific Northwest most likely via a home gardener moving an affected plant into the area. This mildew has found a happy home in our maritime climate with plenty of host (Rhodys) available.

Natural controls are not in place here to fight this imported problem. The most susceptible Rhody varieties seem to be the hybrids; Unique being the “Poster Child” of this disease. Lady Chamberlain and large leafed hybrids are also highly susceptible. The future for our area’s susceptible variety rhodys is bleak. Rhodys treated regularly with a fungicide are holding their own. Most native varieties seem to be unaffected. A resistant list has not been compiled yet for our area.

CONTROL: Topical spraying of the leaves helps to treat or reduce the symptoms of the disease. Repetition of treatment seems to be more important than what material is used to spray. General disease management principles apply such as, improving airflow and picking up & disposing of the diseased leaves. As always with any plant suffering from a disease or insect attack, keep all other stresses to the plant at bay. Plants stressed by parasitic diseases that we cannot protect them from are in need of supplemental care. Mildew itself may cause the death of a plant that has been infected for many years. However, a plant stressed by mildew that is allowed to become drought stressed is doomed.

The home gardener can do quite a bit for a Rhody (and other shrubs with surface roots) with fertilizer applied to the soils surface and or mulching program. However, a stressed plant calls for a more advanced method of feeding. Sound Solutions offers the most scientifically advanced fertilization program. Custom blended fertilizers with organic additives and beneficial mycorrhizal fungi are available by request for stressed plants. We deliver the fertilizer deep into the soil with a high-pressure injection method.

RHODY LACEBUG: The Lacebug eats by sucking the juice from the underside of the leaf. Damage is visible on top of the leaf by small chlorotic/yellow specks. Under the leaf, you can find the Lacebug with small black/brown tar like spots, which are the waste (fecal material) from feeding

CONTROL: Rhodys in the direct sun are the only plants affected by this pest. Too much sun stresses the Rhody and makes it a target for this warm temperature bug. Plant your Rhodys out of the direct sun. Move an already affected Rhody into a shadier location. If this is not possible, contact sprays (soaps, oils, botanicals) can be directed to the undersides of the leaves for superior control. A strong rinse under the leaves from the hose will dislocate the pest and persistent rinsing can result in good control. Sound Solutions offers extra spraying in the spring and summer to target this pest.

STRAWBERRY ROOT WEEVIL: The adult weevil is the one that notches the leaves of thin leafed plants. The weevil eats by slipping the leaf in the sides of its weevil jaws, notching only the edges of the leaves. Weevil jaws do not open very far so only thin leaved plants can fit into the adult weevils mouth. The adult weevil is a nocturnal or nighttime feeder so you will not see him, only the notching damage left behind. Hiding in the soil during the day, the weevil loves dry soils, ground covers and beauty bark to hide in from the heat of the day. This adult is a very hard-shelled teardrop shaped gray weevil with a large slender nose. Due to its hard shell protection, the adult weevil is not affected by even the most toxic contact pesticides.

CONTROL: Attack during the larval stage. This insect lies below the effected plant living in the soil and eating the roots of the plant. During the larval stage, the bug eats a lot of food to complete it metamorphosis into an adult weevil.

BENEFICIAL NEMATODES: These are the natural control for this pest. Beneficial nematodes are present in most garden soils but not in numbers high enough to offer control of the weevil. Sound Solutions buys the beneficial nematodes from an insectuary and stores them at the right temperature until needed. When needed the nematodes are injected into the soil around the effected plant and left to do their work.

MULCH: A moist environment is needed to keep your nematodes healthy and migrating through the soil eating Root Weevil Larva. Organic mulch is the best way to keep the area moist and deter the weevil from the area. Adult Root weevil will not hide in a moist environment via organic, compost or mulch.