I purchased a Clethra alnifolia about a month ago. It is still in its pot, but is diseased with Eriophyid mites, I think. Its leaves are curling and browning. Does this sound possible, and if so, what should I use on it?
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Although typically pest free, this particular plant is occasionally affected by these pests. Eriophyid mites feed deep within the plant tissues sucking out plant juices, which causes deformation of plant growth but seldom kills plants. Rust mites, a similar species, are usually responsible for the browning and leaf curling.
Eriophyid mites usually do not cause serious injury, even large populations can be tolerated by plants, but the damage may be unsightly. Infected leaves and twigs can be pruned off to eliminate adult mites. All infected branches should be removed and destroyed as well. Heavy infestations can also be controlled with insecticides. Dormant oil, horticultural oils (like neem oil), and insecticidal soaps may also be effective.