on my azaleas
INHERITED several azaleas in our recently purchased property, but
they have a lot of lichen growing on them. They only have leaves
towards the top of the stem and I wonder if the lichen is restricting
their activity. Can you recommend a remedy?
it may look unsightly, lichen is a good sign - it's an indication
of good air quality.
Lichen is actually two
organisms: a fungus and an alga, living in symbiosis. The fungus
shelters the alga and receives food in return.
Lichens are generally
harmless to plants, but if you want to remove them there are several
things you can do. You could prune your leggy azaleas back quite
hard after they've finished flowering in spring. This would probably
remove most of the lichen-affected wood. They'd look bare for a
few weeks but will soon put on fresh new growth, especially if you
give them a light dressing of a fertiliser for acid-loving plants.
Or you could simply rub the lichen off by hand. Wear a pair of gardening
gloves to save your skin.
Alternatively, try spraying
with lime sulphur, available from garden centres. Be careful, as
lime sulphur can damage the foliage of many plants. Try it on a
small area first and wait a couple of weeks to see the result. The
best time to spray is when the plants are dormant, in winter. Or
paint the spray solution directly on to the lichen with a brush
to avoid getting it on the leaves.
Gardener, Issue 156, 2004, Page 28
Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.