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proofer 08-22-2008 06:03 PM

Spider mites!!! How often can I use Malathion?
We planted a bunch of plants (mostly junipers) around our house. About one month later, they were turning brown like crazy (with one plant 99% dead). A neighbor said that these plants have been attacked by spider mites and for us to buy Malathion. I gave it one spray treatment 7 days ago. The shrubbery still looks really bad. On the Malathion bottle, it says to "use as needed." Well, it definitely needs it again. How often can I give it a treatment?

What causes spider mites

downunder 08-22-2008 06:46 PM

When spider mites are a problem, it almost always is in hot, dry weather. Like right now. So how do we change the climate for your shrubs? Note I didn't say the weather, I said the climate. A very good hosing off is quite helpful. Spider mites do not like the wet. Not a sprinkling, a good hard hosing.

First though, are you sure you have spider mites? Maybe you do, just asking. First thing to do is verify. Often you can take a sheet of white paper, hold it under the stem and tap the stem. You can knock the mites off and see them running around. They are reddish, very tiny. The thing that concerns me is that mites cause a general decline. Either they were already severly infested or.... By the end of the summer, or at least over a period of several months, established plants will just look tired and a little off color. A significant infestation can take maybe a year to kill them. I realize that your plants are new, and not as well established. But this seems a little quick to me. Don't want to give a baby a bunch of antibiotics when he has the colic!

Or, did you water properly?

All the malathion instructions I have seen say every week to ten days. That's the most often I would use it. Repeated applications can allow those that survive to develope a tolerance. And malathion can be dangerous when used improperly. If you still have plenty left, rotate it with other products.

I would suggest a 'miticide' product. X-mart, HD, etc., just read the label.
Also consider a 'systemic' insecticide. Orthene, Orthenex are a couple. They changed the names a couple of times. Look on the label for ingredient "acephate." There are a couple of others as well that have come out in the last year or two. My mind is blank on names right now!

Make sure they are watered properly. Fertilize LIGHTLY.

chrisn 08-23-2008 03:59 AM

Downunder has given perfect advice,go with it. :thumbsup:

proofer 08-23-2008 06:26 PM

Thanks for the great advice. Since planting these, I've been watering every single day that it doesn't rain (with the hose about 3-4 minutes a plant) so I can get the root system growing in the ground. A lot of these newly-planted junipers are brown at the top 5 inches or so of the plant. The 99%-dead plant that I mentioned is dead. I'll have to try the white-paper trick tomorrow during the day. I will post my results. Thanks for taking the time to write.

downunder 08-23-2008 08:07 PM


Since planting these, I've been watering every single day that it doesn't rain (with the hose about 3-4 minutes a plant)

Or, did you water properly?
Allowing for adequate rain and not just a sprinkle, this means SOAKING the root ball at least twice a week, with time for drainage in between.
This depends on:
How well the soil was prepared before planting.
How well the plants were installed.
The size of the root ball. Were these 1 gal $3.99 plants, or larger?
Weather including temperature, cloudy or sun, wind, and of course rainfall.

Irrigation must soak in. If you run a hose for five minutes and half of it runs across the yard, it has not helped the roots. If you are doing this properly, every day, then you are probably drowning them. Hope it doesn't sound like I'm being critical; if you don't know, you don't know. That's what this forum if for and I hope my limited knowledge helps along the way.

Just to ask, how many plants do you have and what size? For a 1 gallon plant, the typical HD or WM size, I would trickle a couple of minutes, wait a couple of minutes, water again, about five times three times a week. That takes time. If you have several, the wait time is not that bad. Water them taking turns. A couple of minutes on each one, times twenty plants, gives time for the first to soak in by the time you get through with the last one on each trip.

I have some photos of exactly what I bet your plants look like. These were some that some else planted improperly in soil that was not prepared, and when I watered them the water would not soak in. Will try to get them to post. Have not done that before.

Till later,

downunder 08-23-2008 08:51 PM

3 Attachment(s)
Maybe these will come through. If not I'll try again later.

proofer 08-25-2008 07:33 AM

Well, I did the test with the white paper. And no, I didn't see any spider mites at all. So maybe it was just the shock of planting?

I should have given you a little more information. This isn't the first time these plants have been planted in our yard. We bought them last December at 90% off. They were very healthy then, and we planted them in the ground all together in the backyard, to stay there until summertime when we knew where we wanted to eventually plant them around the yard.

Fast forward to this summer (a month ago): We dug them up from the backyard (still very healthy looking) and planted them around the front and side yard. We also, at that time, added red lava rock as a base around these plants. Then, one month later, this one spiral-looking juniper bush is completely dead, and most of the other spiral and poodle junipers are brown, about the top 5 inches.

Well, we got a good rain last night. Hopefully, if the problem is with the shock of replanting, maybe this good soaking did the trick and will bring some of these back to life. We shall see.......

downunder 08-25-2008 09:06 AM

Good deal on the wintertime purchase!:thumbsup:

Fall, early winter is really the BEST time to plant and/or move shrubs. Roots continue to grow as long as the soil temp is above 45-50*. Summer heat and drought is especially tough and, unfortunately, you compounded that with the lava rock. That rock was like putting a heating pad on the roots.

The good rain will most definitely help if they aren't too far gone. But, remember to keep them watered.

The photos I posted (still learning that new task) show exactly what transplant stress and improper watering looks like. Roots are odd in that topside damage often correlates to roots on the opposite side of the plant. Kind of like a stroke on your right side affects your left side. For example, these and your shrubs are dying mostly on top. Translate that to roots in the botton not getting water! I DID NOT plant the cryptomerias and even with 1200 gallons soaked in over two hours, twice a week, they are struggling. They were planted way too deep, so I had to go in (behind someone else) and dig out about two-four inches of soil from the top of the root balls. The postive of that is that I now have a watering basin about two inches deep, dripline wide, around most of them. Note that the ground slopes away at the back. FYI- I soaked the depression on top of the roots probably ten times to try to get the water to go down into the root ball. Did a soil probe and soil was dry and hard below about four inches after 600 gallons so I started putting two loads on them. I use a 600 gallon water tank so that's how I can measure exactly how much water has been applied.

If good watering shows you which ones will pull through by beginning to put out new growth, I would put a light feeding of a 1-2-2 ratio formula. In other words, a 6-12-12, 5-10-10, or something close to that. You don't want much nitrogen now because new growth needs time to harden off or early freeze might kill everything that you worked for; the higher phosphorous will help with the root process; and the extra (K) Potassium is generally recommended to help the plant prepare for winter. That's a cellular thing with how moisture is stored that we won't get into right now but think of putting a moisturizing lotion on your face when you go out in the dry winter wind. Not exactly, but...

By the way, where are you?

agrace 08-25-2008 09:27 AM

Daily water will do them in. THe guys are right a good soaking a couple of times a week unless it gets unusually hot and windy which dries them out faster might call for additional water. Anything that gets to "brown" will finish dying. Some have just a few branches that are brown and might make it. Check with the nursery there is a fertilizer for evergreens "hollytone" is just one of them. Check to see if you can fertilize before winter??
By the way if you do get spider mites they really hate dish soap. You can be a lot safer spraying them with diluted dish soap in a sprayer apparently it is bitter to them. I did have spider mites in be bird nest spruces and it worked.
Good Luck

proofer 08-25-2008 09:52 AM

Thanks for the posts. I'm in Cincinnati. I'll take pictures of what I'm talking about tonight (my silly defective digital camera only takes pictures at night).

proofer 08-26-2008 07:31 PM

2 Attachment(s)
Here are my poor spiral plants that I've described before in this thread. We had a good rain the other day, and we're due another rainfall tomorrow. If it's not a spider mite problem, maybe a second rain will do the trick. See below:

agrace 08-27-2008 06:44 AM

First plant is way dead, nothing is going to save it. the second one is questionable. By the way Cedars have a bit of browning on the inside of the plant during the winter and then green up in the spring. That being said. If the branches are dying off from the outside in they will usually finsh dying and there is nothing you can do.
Pull the one dead plant out and take it back to the nursery or any nursery and ask their opinion on what is happening.

downunder 08-27-2008 05:54 PM

Note that these are junipers, not cedars.

One thing I do when I lose plants is to try to investigate the site conditions. In the photos I posted, I planted the azaleas in front. I DID NOT plant the larger shrubs, which are cryptomeria. I did loose one of the azaleas. They had been bought late season and were pot-bound. The one that died had never put the first new root out. Yes, I do break up rootballs.

The following is my procedure.
1. On those that you are sure are completely dead (Check by bending the stem and scratching under the bark. If it's completely dead, you will know.), start by raking back whatever mulch material you have and look at the surface of the soil and in the mulch itself. May not tell you much in this instance but sometimes you may find something telltale here. Bugs, stem virus, planted too deep or shallow, etc.
2. Poke around in the top inch or two of soil. BEFORE #3.
3. Gently PULL the plant from the planting hole. Especially if it was recently planted, you should be able to remove it with the rootball and the planting hole still intact. Try not to disturb the rootball or the hole.
War story- Planted some plants on hardpan with no drainage at all one time. There was a water table about 6-8 inches below the surface and water filled the hole- just plain ran in the side of the hole like a garden hose had been buried there and turned on.
In this instance the plant had simply drowned. Not from overwatering, but drowned none-the-less.
Or, the bottom of the hole may be completely dry, as I suspect yours is.
Or, there may be air pockets if the dirt (soil, for the fancy) wasn't packed properly. Sides of the planting hole may look like swiss cheese.
Or, you find an insect problem.
Or, ...
Check the rootball. What does it look and smell like? Is it black and does it smell rotten? Any sign that new roots had started? Had life started at all or had something happened?

proofer 08-27-2008 07:35 PM

Thanks for the suggestions, guys. I think I'll keep watering and just patiently wait, trying to bring that first spiral juniper (picture #1) back to life. I have about 5 other spiral junipers that look like that in picture #2. The rest of my spirals look just fine.

Now my replanted hostas aren't doing so well (they looked great initially). I'm now wondering if something was in the red lava rock that's at the base of all these plants. And then there's another type of plant (similar to a hosta) that looks really great, but I sure don't know what type of plant it is. With my luck, it's probably just a weed!

proofer 06-25-2009 03:33 PM

OK. It's been almost a year since my last post, but I wanted to give you a status update in case anyone else has this particular problem. My decorative junipers have been hit again. About half of them are turning brown, inside out. We've had lots of rain here in Cincinnati during the springtime (every day or every other day for about 3 weeks), so I was guessing that these junipers just had too much rain. I did the "white paper" test and didn't see any tiny red spider mites. But I did give it the Malathion treatment twice so far (2 weeks apart), with the third treatment due in a few days. Someone at a landscaping nursery said to give it 3 treatments, 2 weeks apart, and shoot towards the inside. Well, they seem to be coming back to life (most of them, anyway). They're still brown on the inside, but the tips are green, so it seems like it's taking on new growth on those brown branches. Since these junipers don't get bushy or have heavy growth, I'm sure the brown will always show, but at least there's green on the outside.

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