No need to be blue about color of azalea leaves

Garden Q&A

December 15, 2007|By Ellen Nibali and David Clement

The lower leaves of my new Encore azalea are turning brownish. Is this variety partly deciduous, or do I have a disease problem? The plant was healthy all spring and summer and bloomed well.

Healthy evergreen azaleas often exhibit color change in fall and winter. Depending on variety and site conditions, colors range from purple-reds to yellow-greens. They can be quite attractive in the winter landscape. Azaleas normally drop a few leaves in the fall, but the majority remain and green up in plenty of time for spring floral displays.

Moths ate my mink and a wool coat. We set off bombs in the house, but how do I know they killed off the moths? What should I do for prevention?

There are two species of clothes moths in Maryland: the webbing and case-making moths. The 1/2 -inch, yellowish adult moths are rarely seen. Larvae are small, white caterpillars with brown heads. They feed on the surface of material.

The larvae of the case-making moth construct a protective case of fabric threads and carries it around. The color may not match the infested material. The larvae of the webbing clothes moth spin silk tubes on the feeding surface.

Bug bombs generally are not effective. The best control is prevention. Clean, properly stored woolens do not attract fabric pests. Dry cleaning kills all stages of them. Hand-washing woolens with mild soap should also kill the insects.

Store clean woolens in sealed containers. Vacuum susceptible areas in your home often to prevent lint and hair from accumulating. Pay close attention to woolen carpets, wall hangings, etc. For more information, call our hotline or see our Web site's Fabric Pests publication or Plant Diagnostic under Pest Control.


In the garden, be careful not to prune off beneficial insect egg cases, such as the beige, dried-foam blobs that are made by praying mantis. Leave them in the garden so that the emerging insects can perform pest control next season.

Brush heavy snow or ice off evergreens to prevent limb breakage.

Ellen Nibali, horticulture consultant, works at Maryland Cooperative Extension's Home and Garden Information Center, and David Clement is the regional specialist. The center offers Maryland residents free gardening information. Call the center's "hotline" at 800-342-2507 or e-mail plant and pest questions through the Send a Question feature at

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