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June 23, 2018


 How long does it take a systemic insecticide to start working?  We applied Bayer Sys. Ins. for Trees and Shrubs to our euonymus and wonder when we can expect improvement.  



The systemic insecticide works fairly quickly when applied in the spring of the year.  One thing to be aware of, is even though you may have killed the scale insects on your euonymus, they are not going to fall off.  The plants should start to rebound with new growth, which should be clean of insects, but the damage they did to the old foliage will not disappear.  Over time you should have healthier and happier plants.


May 26, 2018


Pursuant to your recent column regarding euonymus scale:  I have made yearly applications of the Bayer Advanced for several years now, with excellent results.  My concern is its effect on bees.  I had a fat bumblebee hovering while I was applying this year, and I kept shooing it away until the solution had soaked into the ground.  However, I read recently that Imidicloprid will kill bees if they feed on the flowers of plants that have been treated systemically.  I love my euonymus, but I don’t want to be killing bees.  Is there an effective alternative?



There continues to be heated debates over the use of Imidicloprid systemic insecticide and bee health.  If used properly, and applied at the correct rates, research has shown little to no damage to bees. I am assuming you are growing the golden euonymus shrub, which is grown primarily for its yellow and green foliage.  If grown in the shade, it will not bloom.  In full sun inconspicuous flowers do appear in the spring. If your plant blooms, you could wait and apply the insecticide after bloom.


May 14, 2018


I have 9 Euonymus shrubs across the front of my house (east side).  Last year one of them got infected and died before I noticed the problem. I then noticed some of the others were also beginning to look bad. I took some of the infected branches to the nursery and they told me that it was euonymus scale and sold me 55% Malathion for treatment. I sprayed them twice (in the fall) and they looked better. Then in February I noticed 3 of them had become infected again and some branches were already dead. I sprayed them again with the Malathion and removed the dead branches. They are now greening up and putting on new growth, but I think I can see the scale coming back. I started to spray again, but noticed the instructions on the Malathion says “do not apply more than 2 times a year". Is it safe for me to use more often? If not what can I do to kill this scale?



If you grow the golden euonymus plants, expect to see euonymus scale every year.  That is the limitation to growing this plant.  Euonymus scale will not kill a plant overnight, but over time they will limit their growth and overall vigor, which can lead to an early death.  The way to identify the scale is to look at the backs of the leaves, the stems and in bad cases, even on the upper surface of the leaf.  It looks like someone has sprinkled them with salt and pepper.  Scale insects are difficult to kill with a contact spray—which Malathion is, since the insects cover the undersurface of the leaves, the stems and more, which makes thorough coverage difficult.  If the insecticide doesn’t come in contact with the insect, it can’t kill it.  You may have knocked back some of the crawlers, but not many of the adults.  For scale insects it is better to use a systemic insecticide which can kill the insects as they feed from the inside.   Orthene is one, Imidicloprid (Merit, Fertilome Tree & Shrub Systemic Insect Drench, or Bayer Advanced Tree & Shrub insecticide) will do a great job. 


November 19, 2016


I would like to know what the name of this plant is.  I call it my mountain bush as we got it off of some land we own way out in the country.  It has these round seed pods that are pretty pink in color and then all of a sudden they were bursting open with round seed pods.  I took some seeds and a runner or two and transplanted them to my yard. It has grown, but is a tad spindly, but it bloomed and set more seed pods. I would love to know what it really is so I can know more about growing it and possibly sharing it with friends.

Picture of Euonymus americanus                                


The plant in question has many interesting common names from Strawberry bush to Hearts-a-bursting—Euonymus americanus is the Latin name. It is a mid-sized open-growing native shrub that is found in moist woodlands.  The flowers are fairly small and inconsequential in late spring to early summer, but the pink rough husks are pretty, but when the bright orange to red seeds pop out they are stunning.



October 8, 2015

QuestionOur Euonymus (I think) shrubs are being attacked and killed by something- pictures attached- It spreads from one shrub to the next, killing it. We are planning to replace them with something else. Do we need to pre- treat the soil and mulch before planting something else? If so, what?  


I would take one of the dying plants into your local county extension office. You need some of the roots as well as the top part—preferably one that has various stages of dying with it. They can send it off to the disease diagnostic lab to determine the cause of death. This should help you in deciding what to replant or if there is a problem with the site. Euonymus plants are quite susceptible to scale insects which should not affect other plant families, but normally that doesn’t move from one plant slowly—they all usually get it at once.  So investigate and find out what is happening before buying more plants.  


July 2, 2016


Can you help identify the pests in this photo?


scale on euonyymus






AnswerYou have an impressive case of scale insects on your euonymus.  Euonymus is quite prone to scale insects.  If you want to keep the plant, cut it back by 1/3 now and dispose of the parts you are removing.  Then use a systemic insecticide containing imidacloprid (Merit or Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub insecticid


October 10, 2015

QuestionI have this plant in my back yard and was told by local residents that it was simply called a "Cat's Paw". It seems to prefer the shade of another tree.  Any information you could provide would be appreciated.


AnswerCat’s paw is a new name for me.  The plant in question is a native shade loving deciduous shrub called Euonymus americanus. It has numerous common names including Strawberry Bush, Heart’s a bursting, and Brook euonymus.  It thrives in moist areas in the shade.  In late spring where you see these interesting fruits, it has fairly non-descript flowers in green.  They are followed by these small fruits which turn pink in the fall and then pop open to expose dark red or orange berries, thus the common names

 March 2014

QuestionMy euonymus will be two years old this spring.  Several branches have developed a disease.  The leaves turned a brassy color and some dropped off.  Those leaves have black spots on the underside. The affected leaves are only on one of the shrubs but I notice the tips of several limbs on other shrubs have begun to wither.  These affected limbs look as if they are trying to leaf out again. Is this Anthracnose and if so, how do I control it?  If not, what is this and what do I need to do? 

AnswerSome of the brassy color could be cold damage. I would also look closely at the underside of the leaves and the stems. The most common problem with euonymus is euonymus scale. It looks like someone sprinkled salt and pepper on the leaves and stems. These tiny insects suck the sap out of the foliage and can lead to dieback if not controlled. To be sure of proper identification of the problem, take a sample in to your local county extension office and they can send it to the disease diagnostic lab if they can’t identify the problem. Correct identification is the first step to control choices.

 August 2010

QuestionI am having a terrible time this summer with my golden euonymus. I have quite a few of them and don't want to lose them. Something seems to be sucking them dry. I have sprayed them twice with Malathion and it hasn't seemed to help. I have sprayed them with deer repellent too as we have quite a few deer eating them. I am at my wits end as to what to do. Can you please give me some advice?

 AnswerMy guess is you have euonymus scale. These tiny insects feed on the lower and upper leaf surface as well as the stems. It will look like someone poured salt and pepper on the plant. They suck the sap out of the plant and can weaken it considerably. But you should be able to see them. Malathion would give you limited control. A better option would be imidacloprid, commonly sold as Merit, Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub Insecticide or Ferti-lome® Azalea/Evergreen Food Plus with Systemic. Prune off any heavily infested parts and then treat with the systemic insecticide. You can also wait for fall and spray the plant with a dormant oil, but the oil products must be thoroughly applied to be effective.

October 2005

QuestionI need your advice! Several years ago my wife and I were in Pennsylvania and purchased two small bushes the locals call fire bushes. They seem to do well in that area and turned a brilliant burning orange/red in the fall. We transplanted these two shrubs in our yard in Conway and they have grown very large. A couple of problems we are having. This time of year they seem to start dropping all of their leaves so very little if any color appears in the fall. The other problem is that these bushes seem to be home to dozens of sparrows. Could the birds be the cause of the leaves dropping due to the birds taking up residence in them and all the defecating that is taking place? I try to make my yard a bird sanctuary by providing many bird feeders and bird baths. I enjoy my yard full of birds which unfortunately seem to be mainly sparrows but would also enjoy seeing these bushes in full fall color as we did in Pennsylvania. Any advice you could provide would be appreciated.

AnswerWe seem to be having a lot of travelers to the New England area these days, all coming back with reports of the spectacular fire bushes—which we call burning bush. Euonymus alatus is the scientific name, and yes they do grow here as well. Fall color is often not as spectacular in the south as it is in the northern states, due to fall weather conditions, and sometimes summer stress. For ideal fall color, the plants prefer cool nights and warm days, ample soil moisture and a shift in the temperatures. Often our fall temperatures are still quite high, and the nights can be almost as warm as our days. I don’t think birds should be causing leaf drop, but do pay attention to watering needs. Don’t overdo it, but don’t let them shut down early because of dry conditions.

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