Azaleas - What is this on my azaleas and what do I do about it

Asked September 23, 2020, 11:25 AM EDT

Some type of bug created what looks like a netting on the bottom of my azaleas - All along the bottom of 2 large groups of azaleas that are in the front of my house. It is killing the bottom leaves - all along the bottom. What can I put on it to save my azaleas.

Howard County Maryland

1 Response

We see the areas of concern, and think that they are likely spider webbing that is incidental and just caught dried and fallen leaves and flowers. That is not to blame for any dead or dying branches. The spiders are good to have in the garden.
We suggest raking out the lower areas of the azaleas, and testing lower, bare branches for life by bending them back. If they snap they are completely dead and those areas can be pruned out.
Be on the lookout for white spots/crusting or evidence of wildlife gnawing on the lower branches and trunk. White areas could suggest azalea bark scale.

How does the rest of the plant look? Healthy, robustly growing azaleas are pretty tough and we'd not worry if bottom branches are removed.

The most common pest we see on azaleas (often on azaleas in full sun and in yards that use pesticides) are lace bugs, which show up as spotty, stippled leaves that eventually look bleached out, and under the leaf you can find black fecal dots. Often problems are controlled by beneficial insects in the landscape, which unfortunately can be wiped out by the use of broad spectrum pesticides.

If you don't see any bark damage, or crusting on those lower branches, we don't think you have a problem needing any treatment.