Saturday, January 19, 2013

Witches Broom on Azaleas

According to what I researched on University of Florida Extension site, I believe distorted new growth on azaleas that I cut back severely last spring after bloom is 'Witches Broom' caused by
Rhododendron gall midge (Clinodiplosis rhododendri). 
Witches Broom
Dwarfed, distorted foliage caused by Azalea Midge.
Damage to normal sized leaves is also evident.
Witches broom on the left, normal growth on the right.
Since I use as few insecticides as possible in the garden, I am going to cut off and dispose of all foliage with signs of midge damage while the weather has turned cold and dry.
An azalea on the other end of the bed which was not cut
back is beginning to show bud color.


  1. Glad you got rid of the damaged part of your azalea, and hope you get no more witches broom.


  2. I wish rose rosette disease were as easy to get rid of. I have lost almost all my roses to that awful disease.

    Good luck with your pruning. Maybe you should disinfect the pruners before each new bush? I didn't with my roses and spread the disease badly.

  3. I thought I would disinfect after every cut. So far this is confined to only one bush.

  4. Witch's broom is a strange looking affliction on any plant. I noticed I had a stem on my wax myrtle that looks like it might be witch's broom. Will have to go and prune it out.

  5. Witches Broom is not something I am terribly familiar with 'tho the reason for such a name is evident. The photo which compares the sick with the healthy portion of the plant is really helpful to me.

  6. I freak out any time I see witches broom on a plant! I hope your azalea grows back normally, and that the midges cause no more damage. How exciting to see color - it won't be long now before spring!

  7. Yes, prune back hard to larger branching and wipe pruner with alcohol after each cut.

    Stay on top of any new stunted growth and look at neighboring plants.

  8. I've never met Witches Broom in all of my years of gardening... and from the looks of it, I hope I never do. Curious if the severe cutting back last Spring actually had anything to do with the malady or was it just a coincidence. Very interesting.

  9. Thank you all for the comments. I followed Reed Pugh's instructions. The witches brooms are in the garbage can in a plastic bag.

    I don't know if cutting back was coincidental or not. There is just this one azalea. Others touching it have new growth and are not affected. Maybe the midges just chose this one.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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