The Q&A Archives: Sickly Golden Japanese Barberry

Question: We have a Monrovia Nursery Golden Japanese Barberry that we planted 3-4 years ago. It has done very well up to now.
This spring its leaves began appearing before the leaves appeared on our Rose Glow Japanese Barberry plants (also Monrovia Nursery plants, that we planted the same time). However, now the Rose Glows are flourishing and the Golden
looks like it is dying. All the plants have received the same care and are planted in the same area. Many of the branches on the Golden have no leaves at all, but I cut into one of the barren branches and it is green. The leaves that are on the Golden are not even full sized, and they have dark spots on them. We did have a couple of frosts later in the year than usual, after the leaves had sprouted. I don't see any insects on it. I did find two spiders in one of the Rose Glows (brown, round body, not sure if they were spiders or not, but they were in what looked like an open white cocoon, or nest) and on the other Rose Glow a kind of worm shaped tiny bug (3 or 4 of them), that had three patches of color on each: black, orange, black, and they had "rippley" sides. Do you have any suggestions to try to save the Golden and do you think the insects we saw are harmful to the plants? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Kim Kowalik

Answer: Unfortunately, based on your description, I am unable to make a determination as to what has happened to your plant. These plants are usually trouble free, so this is very unusual. But without really knowing what the problem is, it is impossible to suggest what to do. I would suggest you take a sample branch or two plus possibly a photo of the affected plant and consult with your county extension and/or knowledgeable nursery staff. I'm really sorry I can't be more helpful.

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