All of a sudden, my phlox and now my azaleas have overnight look like someone has thrown something on them to burn them up. I have had these plants and over the years added to them, they were so beautiful, and have ended up with 16 years of burned up mess. I have cried over the waste and expense. I just want to know what happened. What can I do now?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Patricia in Virginia: From what you have described it sounds like your plants have come into contact with some type of herbicide drift. This can be very harmful, even detrimental, to any plant material that it comes into contact with. Have you or a close neighbor or a lawn care service sprayed any chemicals in the past week? If your azaleas and phlox seemed to be perfectly healthy and then suddenly declined in health, I would suspect this is the cause. It is impossible to say for certain without seeing them, but you can always take a sample to a reputable garden center/nursery in your area or to your County Cooperative Extension Service for a positive diagnosis. Usually when non-target plants are exposed to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, their foliage first turns yellow/brown and then we see defoliation and dieback. If this is the case, unfortunately the damage is done and irreversible. It will be a waiting game to see how much damage was done.