The Q&A Archives: Hollies Yellowing

Question: I planted 4 four-foot tall hollies last fall. In early spring they looked great -- they even had berries. Now they are losing some leaves at the bottem. And towards the bottem the leaves are turning yellowish even though the rest of the bush is flowering. Are they dying? Should I apply a fertilizer?

Answer: Most likely they're fine. But just in case, pay particular attention to the new growth. If new growth is healthy and vigorous, my guess is the plants are fine. If new growth is weak or otherwise stalled, maybe there is a problem.

It's not unusual for lower leaves of shrubs to yellow and fall, especially of evergreen shrubs (and I'm not sure whether you have evergreen or deciduous hollies).

I'd avoid fertilizer. Again, examine the newest growth. If it is vigorous and a healthy green, it's unlikely that fertilizer can make anything any better. If new growth is pale yellow or weak, a modest amount of fertilizer might help.

Keep new plants well watered. Until their roots are deeply established in your surrounding soil, they can suffer drought easily. Let a soaker hose run for several minutes right over the roots. A 1- to 2-inch-deep mulch also helps maintain soil moisture and prevent weeds.

Good luck!

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