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Bugs on Althea seed pods

Q:    My althea has seed pods on it and these are covered with a red and black bug. Should I spray these or are they harmless?

A:    These are called cotton stainers or red cross bugs. They feed on the seeds of the althea. If you cut off the seed pods, they will go away. Spraying is not normally needed.

Q:    My althea has gotten quite large. When can I prune it back?

A:    Althea bloom on new wood in the warm season. To not interfere with flowering, I would cut the plant back when it is dormant in the winter or some time in spring.

 

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