The Q&A Archives: Holly and rose bush are sickly

Question: In front of my house, I have several Holly shrubs, a rose bush, and several other varieties of shrubs scattered through out the bed. On the far west side of the bed, the rose bush and a holly are sickly. Three weeks ago I trimmed all of the shrubs (and the rose bush) and noticed that all of them were very green and healthy looking. After trimming, all of the plants began sprouting new growth and the rose started developing buds as it prepared to bloom. Over the past two weeks, I noticed that the rose bush was loosing some leaves in front. Today I checked it again and found that the rose bush and holly (which are next to each other on the far west end of the bed) are discolored and losing all of their leaves. In fact, the rose bush appears to be dead on one side! The holly is turning yellow and if I touch it, the leaves just fall to the ground. The stems that the leaves have fallen from turn brown then black. The strange thing is that the backside (the half facing the house) of the rose bush still appears very healthy with new growth and flower buds. The backside of the holly is also in better condition than the front side. (By the way, the front of the plants face south and receive ample sun light.) I have not sprayed or applied any fertilizer or weed killer any where in the front of my yard. All of the other plants are very healthy. What could be causing this? Insect infestation? (I see no evidence of insects on the plants.) Disease? (If so, what would affect both a rose bush and a holly?) Could a chemical that my lawn service sprays on my grass be causing this? (If so, why aren't the other plants effected?) Please help! (I have digital pictures if they would be of any help.)

Answer: Andy,

I am sorry for this delayed reply to your gardening question as we are transitioning to a new Q&A system. I hope this reply is not too late to be of help.

Your plants are suffering from something in the root system. If a herbicide such as a weed and feed were used and if an extra amount was put on the side of those bushes showing the symptoms it could cause such problems. There is not cure for herbicide injury but time...if the initial poisoning was not too severe.

Another possibility is soggy wet soil conditions. If that area has a leaky underground irrigation line or water line, or if it is lower and stays wetter, this could be why those plants are so affected. The fact that the parts in late day sun are most effected is probably because the demands on those branches and leaves are greatest.

The problem you are seeing is not likely due to any disease since it affect those two unrelated plant species.

Thanks for the question. Please stop in again soon!

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