Bug sucking the life out of my rhodie buds!

hadleyweed(z8WA)April 26, 2006

I had been finding brown, dead buds in the last week on two of my rhodies, and finally found the culprit. I took a picture, but can't seem to figure out how to post it. It's a smallish, black, winged bug. It's so attached to the bud that I can't really get it off without leaving some of the bug behind (Ieuuuw!!) There are also a few spots on the leaves chewed out. The rhodies in question are up against a laurel hedge that is showing definite signs of pest damage - holes chewed, brown spots, dying leaves. Anyone have any ideas what this could be? And, even more importantly, how to get rid of it? Organic solutions appreciated, as so far, the yard has been gardened organically. Although, I'm not above using a non-organic solution in a small space to save these huge rhodies.

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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

I'm at a loss, I can't think of a small, black, winged bug that causes damage to rhododendron buds here. There is a disease that can cause buds to turn brown during winter and buds not to open, but are the dead buds on your plants possibly facing the same location, getting the same type of exposure? The temperatures we had the end of February after gardens had begun to show signs of Spring were low enough in some areas to damage buds, I did notice buds on the sides of rhododendrons that had no protection from freezing winds that were brown and dead in Cowlitz County when there for Easter. Temperatures were not as extreme (or as dry) here near the coast.

If your leaf damage is notches along the edges, weevils are causing it. If entire sides of leaves are eaten to mid vein, most likely climbing cutworms.

Here is a link that might be useful: Weevils

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 2:13PM
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hadleyweed(z8WA)

I may have weevils as well given the way the foliage is chewed. I did look at the link you provided, morz8, and it appears that the weevil is not the bug on the buds. I was able to post a picture of the bug on the Garden Clinic forum here on Garden web, which is listed with the same subject line as here. The link also looks like it has good information on general rhodie care, which is helpful to me, as I am a beginner with rhodies, so thanks!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 11:25PM
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morz8(Washington Coast Z8b)

Hadley, I looked at the photo you posted Garden Clinic and agree with the suggestion it's something harmless to your plants from the wasp family. It may have just had the bad sense to land on your bud...rhododendron buds are stickey.

You say these are large shrubs, there may be nothing you need to do for your unopened buds other than pinch them off later in Spring when you know for certain they are both brown and dry and not just late. You will probably want to do something for the weevils if the leaf damage is more than just lightly cosmetic. An occasional chewed leaf I can deal with...nothing is perfect in our gardens every year...in large numbers the weevils will have larvae that can damage the roots.

Rhododendron care isn't difficult in our climate, mulch (I mulch mine with compost and skip fertilizing) and make sure they have water when we haven't had rain. Deadhead any spent blooms you can reach before they set seed for best bloom next year.

Here's another site with several articles by a local author you may also enjoy

Here is a link that might be useful: Dr Goheen - Rhododendron ABCs

    Bookmark   April 27, 2006 at 1:10AM
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hadleyweed(z8WA)

Once again the little button that lets you post pictures is not showing up on the azalea and rhodie forum. So I will have to post the picture of the dead bud on the garden clinic forum. There appears to be something else going on with the rhodies on my new property as well that may or may not be related to the bud death. At first, I just thought it was death due to the drought summer conditions here in Seattle the last two summers, but now I wonder. I will post a separate posting with pictures on the garden clinic forum. The laurel hedge behind the rhodies has also shown up with a big problem in the last several weeks, and I'll be posting that on the garden clinic forum as well. Thanks so much for all your valuable advice!

    Bookmark   April 29, 2006 at 11:30AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

The Arctic Blast we had in February has caused a lot of damage on normally hardy plants. Conifers all over the region are burnt and Rhodies as well.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 2:45PM
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