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Garden Q&A: Fungal galls on the azaleas and supporting the big tomatoes

The fungal exobasidium galls puff up on some azaleas, particularly after a wet spring. They are not harmful.
The fungal exobasidium galls puff up on some azaleas, particularly after a wet spring. They are not harmful. (Ellen Nibali/For The Baltimore Sun)

These blobs are sticking to my azaleas and getting browner now. How can I stop this?

It’s not unusual for exobasidium galls to puff up on azalea leaves or flowers after a cool wet spring. Though disconcerting to see, this fungal body is not harmful.

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It starts out green, silvery, pink or even red. When the surface turns white and powdery, it is producing spores. There are no effective fungicide that controls it. You can hand pick the galls before they sporulate — produce the spores — but if your azaleas’ galls are now turning hard and brown, that ship has sailed.

You may only see these galls occasionally, and even then only on azaleas that are susceptible. They usually go unnoticed.

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I have large slicing tomatoes, such as Mortgage Lifter, trained vertically on single bamboo poles. Their clusters of green fruit are so big and heavy, they have started to rip off the stem. How can I support the fruit, or do I need to thin some tomatoes?

You needn’t thin the fruit. Either add more ties to support the stems and fruits or drive a second sturdy stake in the ground close to the bamboo pole. Use it to either support the tomato stems and fruits or strengthen the bamboo pole.

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.

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