I just planted a rhodie. Someone told me that I need to spray it so that it does not get infested with bugs. Has anyone heard of this. If so, could you tell me what to use. It looks great but I would hate to have it infested with bugs.
I have the same question, I planted one last week and the flowers are dying and I'm noticing alot of ants crawling on it...Help! its a beauty and would hate to lose it...
I would prefer not to use anything chemical if possible...
In the proper situation, a healthy azalea or rhododendron is relatively carefree. About the only insects that attacks rhododendrons and azaleas are weevils and lace bugs. Lace bugs attacks rhododendrons that are planted in full sun and are best held at bay by moving affected plants into the shade. The weevils come up at night and eat the edges of leaves. They seldom hurt the plant while eating leaves but the larvae can girdle the roots and kill them. It is best combated with a nematode that keeps it in check.
WEEVILS: Leaves chewed on edges is a symptom of chewing insects. Most are nocturnal feeders and can be found at night with a flashlight. The most prominent chewing insects on rhododendrons and azaleas are the Black Vine Weevil and Strawberry Root Weevil, 1/4"long black beetles. Feeding is done at night. Specimens may be collected at night for identification. The major damage is caused by weevil larvae which girdle the roots and kill the plant. Larvicidal drenches may be used to kill them but are of limited effectiveness. A more effective approach is to use nematodes. They are very effective against weevils when applied in the fall to control the larvae. While this approach is promising, it has limitations in that the beneficial nematodes are very sensitive to temperature and moisture extremes and will not live over winter. If applied to soil that is too cold, too wet, too dry or too hot, they will die and provide no control. Best control is achieved by using both chemical and nematode methods with proper timing. Foliar sprays are very effective at controlling adult weevils when leaf notching starts. Foliar sprays of Orthene should be sprayed at about three week intervals from about May to October, depending on the weather, until no adults emerge. Since weevils feed at night, you can hand pick adult weevils at night using a flashlight. Since weevils spend the daytime in the soil and come out at night to feed, you can paint the trunk with Tanglefoot to stop them, but make sure no branches are touching the ground.
LACE BUGS: Whitish specks on the upper surface of leaves and dark spots varnish-like on the bottom are symptoms of rhododendron lace bugs, small insects with transparent wings on under-surface of leaves.. They are more prevalent on certain varieties and on plants grown in sunny areas. When damage first appears, it may be controlled by any of a number of contact insecticides such as Malathion or Orthene. Care must be taken to spray the lower surfaces of the leaves where the lace bugs live. Moving a plant to an area with more shade may alleviate the problem.
Here is a link that might be useful: How to care for rhododendrons and azaleas.