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Scale on rhododendrons

Posts: 299
Location: Portland, Oregon Maritime, temperate, zone 7-8.
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I just now noticed that two of our rhododendrons have scale on them, rather badly.

I know that rhodies are not considered to be permaculture plants, but they came with the house we bought 2 years ago, and they are pretty.

I would like to heal them and keep them.

I do not want to use a spray that will mess up the ecosystem, which is most sprays, it seems to me.

Our other 5 rhodies do not have scale that I can see upon rather close inspection.

I never had scale on outdoor plants before.

I have had it on indoor plants that seriously did not get enough light. From all sides I was hearing that all the plants in the house were in grave jeopardy, and I had to take drastic measures. I was skeptical, since I knew they were growing in bad conditions. I swabbed off the scale and put them in good light and the scale never came back, and certainly did not affect any other plants in the house.

So I am prepared to believe that the scale on the rhododendrons may not be a massive threat to our garden.

We are putting in a permaculture food forest on our 1/4 acre lot in outer SE Portland, Oregon.

The scale may have been on them for a long time. I usually do not pick flowers at all, but picked some today for my partner for his Father, who served in WW2, to put on his Father's grave. That is when I noticed the scale.

When I squished the scale, they were blood red inside. The ones in the house long ago (8 years ago) were all white inside.

These 2 rhodies were in bad shape when we moved in 2 years ago in late June.

One was overgrown with ivy and hardly bloomed at all last Spring. I cut back the ivy and watered it a lot and mulched it about 1 1/2 feet deep with cut-back blackberry canes, starting 4" beyond the trunk out a little beyond the drip line. This year it was thick with blooms.

One was even MORE overgrown with ivy plus massive amounts of blackberries. I cut back the ivy and blackberries and gave it a bark dust mulch . This year the ivy and blackberries were back to a large degree and I cut most of them back again last month. There is more to cut back.

We have had a very wet Spring, even by Portland standards.

So, I am hoping for practical ideas, hopefully ones folks have used successfully themselves.

I am open to brainstorming, but please be clear whether you are brainstorming or experienced.

Predators? Plants to attract the predators? Nutrients to topdress?

I want to save these plants, but we will not mess up the infant permaculture food forest through using things that mess up an ecosystem for the sake of 2 rhodies.

I love one of them a lot, the one that I got to bloom so much this year. It is very beautiful from outside the house as well as inside, where one window looks out on what was a gorgeous, joyous profusion of flowers this Spring, a welcome sight in rainy Portland.

The other is a color I do not really like, but it is about 7-8 feet tall and gives us a good windbreak from the STRONG east wind, and privacy. It is taking up space that would be better utilized by a food producing tree. It gets afternoon sun after the equinox. We have a lot of shade here.

It is spooky how the plants that I do not really want here are the ones which do poorly. They appear to know my thoughts.

Basically, if we could very quickly have the wind shelter and privacy with a food producing plant, I would prefer that. We cannot afford to buy big plants.

One very chilling thought is that there is a LOT of radiation coming down in the rain here in Portland. This of course is a hard on the plants. I hope to Goddess that the radiation is not the cause of the scale, although it must be a contributing factor.

Thank you for any help you can give me.

Health, Happiness, Peace and Abundance for All!

Pamela Melcher

Pamela Melcher
Posts: 299
Location: Portland, Oregon Maritime, temperate, zone 7-8.
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Happy to learn that ladybugs eat scale insects.

The type of scale insects we have are the ones that are soft and have no hard shell. Good, those are easier to get rid of than the ones behind little shells.

Ladybugs would be very happy with the situation.

I would be very happy with the ladybugs.

Apparently, one should NOT spray if one is encouraging ladybugs. OK. I did not want to spray anyway.

So I would love it if folks would share their sources of ladybugs for folks in Portland, Oregon, and methods for caring for them: directing them to particular pests, keeping them happy and enticing them to stick around long-term.

Soldier beetles and parasitic wasps also feed on scale insects.

I would appreciate knowing how folks attract soldier beetles and parasitic wasps, and care for them.

Apparently scale insects are rather common on rhodies, so I need not stoke fears of radiation due to scale insects.

Thank you all

Pamela Melcher

Pamela Melcher
Posts: 299
Location: Portland, Oregon Maritime, temperate, zone 7-8.
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Life cycle of ladybug video. Scroll down at this site:

Clean With Cleaners You Can Eat by Raven Ranson
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
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