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Still not able to see the image.
It is not going to be a quick fix, no matter what you use. I started killing the stuff 3 years ago on the road side near us, as it was obscuring the blind bend. I noticed today that they are new shoots appearing on it. I used Brushwood killer too!
One of the scale insects. The cotton is actually wax which makes them impervious to water. You need to use a horticultural soap to dissolve the wax and then the insecticide part can kill them. Brushing gently with soapy water also works, as does dabbing each one with methylated spirits. Depends on how many there are on the bushes.
Very successful, but you do need to move the cuttings out as soon as they are rooted. I pot them up into a very gritty compost (peat free plus 50% crushed ceramic material). Don't forget though that I only propagate rock garden plants from cuttings.
Not in the least, use which ever is successful for you. I do cuttings in pure sharp sand,no perlite, vermiculite or compost at all. Works for me.
Unfortunately it will not let me see the larger version of the images. But from a distance they look more like P. japonica alba.
I wouldn't, not yet.. scrape the top 2 inches off and replenish with fresh and feed with a general purpose fertiliser to see what happens.
Sounds more like Oyster scale than a fungus. Spray with a soap based insecticide, or gently scrub them off with soap, or if only a few dab with methylated spirits. They are sap suckers which is why the tree maybe suffering.
I have been known to spray with an insecticidal soap made from plants and that does offer some respite. Not easy to get the stuff inside the leaves though where the aphids hide.
Looks like on of the many Geraniums.