Azalea turning brown! Help!

harmonyfarmsJuly 23, 2006

I have an azalea that has turned brown while we were out of town for a few days. I did not plant this azalea and it has never done great. It's at least 4 years old (when we moved in here). I'm hoping that I can get the pic to upload.

Here is a link that might be useful:

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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

I could not look at the picture... said that I did not have permission. Is the whole plant dead / browned?

Have you check the soil lately? Is it dry? Lack of moisture could be one of the reasons that it browned. However, it normally would have given you warning signs by wilting.

There are also some types of borer insects that can attack azaleas and rhododendrons. In those cases, you just need to prune the affected sections. But if the borer affected the main trunk, the whole plant could die.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 4:29PM
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I'll try to figure this out!

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 5:00PM
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luis_pr(7b/8a Hurst, TX)

Try to determine how dry the soil was when you were absent or how dry is it now. Dig a hole around the root ball using a finger (to a depth of 2-3 inches) and see if the soil feels dry, moist or wet.

The area in the picture that is not covered with pine needles looks dry and I wonder if lack of water is causing the problem. When there is a lack of water, the plant will start to brown out selected areas of the shrub until it cannot continue and then it gives up.

Let us know what you determine.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 8:41PM
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I do not have a close up picture at this time. It did rain while we were gone (for just 3 days) and the pine straw was just recently put down. Which is why it isn't completly covered. I haven't finished yet. ;)

I'm really thinking a pest. So it sounds like I should prune this part out. It's never done great and probably wasn't planted too well in the first place. I'm not heart broken if it dies, but I just don't want my other plants to 'get it'.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 9:25PM
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rhodyman(SE PA, USDA Z6)

I can think of 4 different problems that can cause entire portions of a plant to die: Disease, Drought, Borers or Bark Split

1) Disease: Botryosphaeria dothidea causes leaves to turn dull green and then brown and roll and droop. Cankers form on branches which may girdle the branch. This is the most common disease of azaleas in the landscape. A typical symptom of this fungal disease is scattered dying branches on an otherwise healthy plant. Leaves on infected stems turn brown, then droop and roll inward. These leaves often lay flat against the stem and will remain attached. The pathogen can infect all ages of stem tissue through wounds, pruning cuts, and leaf scars. Heat, drought stress, and winter injury can increase disease incidence. Cankers on branches can gradually grow through the wood until the stem becomes girdled. Diseased wood is reddish brown in appearance. Discolored wood viewed in longitudinal cross section often forms a wedge that points toward the center of the stem, and the pith may be darker brown than the surrounding wood. Sanitation and applying a fungicide such as metalaxyl (Subdue) after pruning my provide some control. Plants should be grown in partial shade, with mulch and kept well watered during dry periods. All dying branches should be promptly pruned out in dry weather and all discolored wood should be removed. Plants should also be protected from rough treatment during maintenance activities to prevent unnecessary wounds.

2) Drought can cause entire branches or entire plants to die. We have had several years of drought here and we observe that if rhododendrons and azaleas are not watered during a drought some plants will die, but others will just have one section of the plant die. It seems to be the plants way to conserve what little moisture it has. Prolonged drought weakens plants and often results in the appearance of fungal cankers on the branches of older azaleas. Look for branches that wilt in hot, dry weather in late summer and be sure to water azaleas if drought drags on more than a few weeks. Prune out the affected branches to stop the spread of fungal canker diseases.

3) Borers. If a Rhododendron Stem Borer, Oberea myops, or Rhododendron Borer, Synanthedon rhododendri, is in a branch, the entire portions of an azalea plant beyond (away from the roots) will wild and die. Borers only affect the portion of the plant away from the roots from the borer. If the borer is in the main trunk, then the entire plant will wilt and die. The plant can be save by cutting off the area with the borer and letting the plant regenerate from the roots. There are no conventional insecticides that will kill stem borer larvae once they are inside the branches. The best control option for homeowners with only a few plants is to prune out and destroy wilting branches in early spring or late summer.

4) Bark Split. Bark split is most commonly caused by an early autumn frost while the sap is still high in the plant, or a late spring frost when the sap has already started to rise. For this reason it is dangerous to feed nitrogen to a rhododendron or azalea that could stimulate growth through to autumn. Don't use nitrogen after mid-June. When the bark is frozen, sap cannot get through and the bark splits. For this reason always keep mulch away from the trunk of plants. Bark split damage can be treated with grafting wax to prevent fungal and insect damage.

Here is a link that might be useful: Common Azalea Problems

    Bookmark   July 28, 2006 at 3:50PM
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To me it looks like some type of animal has been urinating on it.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2009 at 2:26PM
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I joined this forum just so I could comment on this thread. I had an Azalea which was doing very well, repotted ~ 6 months ago ( I cant remember exactly) and in the past month all the leaves have turned brown and the plant is failing. It was still producing flowers though. I live in QLD, the weather is warm and there has been plenty of rain. It is potted, sitting on mulch, and not water logged. I saw the comment re fertiliser burn and it sounded right, except I havent fertilised since repotting. As the Azalea was on its way out, I though I may as well repot it in one last attempt . On pulling the plant out, I found over a dozen large earthworms thriving in the (smallish) pot plant. So the nitrogen they were producing in their urine was over fertilising! Ive repotted, without the critters, and hopefully the azalea will pick up. Ive never had a problem with earth worms before but now I dont want any of them near my pot plants!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 9:38PM
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