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Pest & Disease Control for Honeyberry Plants

As with all living things, honeyberry plants may experience issues as they grow, such as the presence of pests or diseases. Location, weather, and upkeep are factors that weigh in on which issues your honeyberries encounter and how well they stands up to them. Determining potentially problematic issues in your area as well as routine maintenance* will help equip you to actively prevent most problems and keep your honeyberry plants in good shape.

*Examples of good practices are: adequate watering, fertilizing as needed, seasonal pruning, preventative and active spraying, fall cleanup, and winter protection.

Honeyberry plants aren’t known to have any significant pest or disease issues, but here are some things to look out for.

NOTE: This is part 7 in a series of 11 articles. For a complete background on how to grow honeyberry plants, we recommend starting from the beginning.

The following issues are merely intended as a means of identification. Don’t be alarmed – honeyberry plants may experience a few of these in their lifetime, but not all at once.

Honeyberry Plant Pests

Leafrollers (Omnivorous Leafroller)

Adult is bell shaped, blackish gray snout-like mouthparts, forewings dark rusty brown with tan tips. Over winters in larval stage in mummified berries, in weeds and other trash. Moths emerge in spring and lay egg masses on leaves. Eggs hatch in 5 days and larvae tie two young leaves together to form nest in which they feed. Later nests can be found in flower clusters and in bunches. Damage is not only from feeding on leaves, flowers, and berries, but also in feeding sites which allow other organisms to enter and rot fruit.

Symptoms: Leaves are rolled and webbed together where grubs feed. Foliage eventually becomes skeletonized with prolonged exposure to feeding. May curl up in leaves, but tend not to harm fruit. Defoliation may occur, so manually remove these pests as they appear. Spraying is not typically required.

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® Neem Oil
  • Monterey Horticultural Oil

Honeyberry Plant Diseases

Powdery Mildew

Caused by a fungus that overwinters in canes (tips) and buds and emerges during humid, cool-to-warm weather progressively throughout the growing season. Spreads by wind. Fungicide control sprays can be applied as symptoms appear, from summer to fall.

Symptoms: Whitish-gray powdery mold or felt-like patches on buds, young leaves, and canes. Leaves may crinkle and curl upward. New shoots are stunted.

Control: Natural Spray

  • Bonide® Neem Oil
  • Monterey Fruit Tree Spray Plus

Other Control Options

  • Clean up fallen leaves and other debris.
  • Maintain growing site. Pruned to improve air circulation, avoid overhead watering, keep area free of weeds.

Other Honeyberry Plant Issues

No Blossoms or Fruit

Symptoms: Honeyberry plants can take about 1 to 2 years after planting (on average) before they bloom or bear fruit. Depending on the variety, flowers and fruit should appear on 1-year stems. Be sure not to prune off the tips of honeyberry plants as this is where a majority of flowers and fruit develop. If enough time has been allowed to pass, the honeyberry plants are otherwise healthy, and no pruning errors have been made, but you’re still seeing no blossoms or fruit, then there are a few things to do to help it become fruitful.

Control: Manual

  • Prune to remove weak, spindly canes to ensure the strongest, healthiest canes have the best chance at fruiting.
  • Know your soil. Soil conditions, and the presence of necessary nutrients, help keep a honeyberry plant’s roots supplying nutrients through its vascular system. If the soil is poor, or poorly drained, this affects the health and viability of the plant as a whole. If the soil is being over-fertilized, especially with a fertilizer high in nitrogen, it may develop lush, vegetative growth (leaves and stems) instead of developing fruit buds or blooming.

Additional Resources

  • Contact local county cooperative Extension for further advice
Sunscald/Sunburn and Windburn

Clear, sunny days and high temperatures of summer can lead to sunburn on some plants, namely the foliage.

Symptoms: Dark brown, splotchy areas on foliage. Looks like a blight, but it’s not. It does not greatly hinder growth or production, but plant appearance may seem unsightly.

Control: Manual

  • Protect from intense summer sun with a temporary shade structure like that which can be provided using shade cloth.
Water Stress

Symptoms: Can relate to overwatering or underwatering. Overwatering commonly presents as pale green to yellow leaves and leaf drop. Can weaken a plant, lead to issues with root rot, and ultimately be fatal. Underwatering often presents as discolored – often yellowed – dry leaves. Plant may appear to wilt overall and prolonged lack of water can be fatal.

Control: Manual

  • Water every 7 to 10 days during the growing season (if no rain within the week) or as needed (as the soil becomes dry to the touch).
  • If planted in a location where the soil does not adequately drain water after heavy rains (leading to standing water), relocate the plant as soon as possible.
  • If drought-like conditions persist, consider slow-trickle drip irrigation to allow water to reach the roots rather than wash over soil surface.

Additional Resources

Wind Injury

Symptoms: Can involve injury such as leaning plants, broken or torn stems, and wind-burned foliage. Depending on the severity of the injury, a honeyberry plant can either bounce back from minor damage or succumb to constant wind-related harm. This is determined on an individual basis and the health of the plants before the damage occurs.

Control: Manual

  • Adequately tamp soil around the plant’s roots (and thoroughly water) at planting time to remove air pockets and ensure good contact with the soil. Air pockets and loose soil around the roots can cause the plant to rock easily in its planting hole, leaving it vulnerable to becoming uprooted.
  • If tender new foliage is blown or whipped around by the wind, it may appear discolored (dark – like a burn or bruise). This damaged growth can be removed to encourage healthy, new growth to take its place.
NEXT: Pruning Honeyberry Plants
Previous: Fertilizing Honeyberry Plants