The Q&A Archives: Otto Luyken Leaf Holes

Question: My new Otto Luyken laurels quickly developed numerous holes in all leaves. The ends of the branches are green, but devoid of any growth. I can't see any pests on the plants. The underside of the leaves do have some scattering of brown. I read that a fungus can cause holes in the leaves. Do you think it's a pest or disease, and what treatment would you recommend?

Answer: Based on your description I am not able to tell you specifically what is happening to your shrubs. The shot hole fungus that may affect laurels makes little round holes through the leaves, it is a fairly distinctive pattern. But there are other possible causes for holes to develop so it may not be that at all. You do need to know what exactly is causing the problem before you can treat it. I would suggest you work with your local professional nurseryman (perhaps the retailer where you purchased the plants) and/or county extension to obtain a specific diagnosis and recommended controls if control is needed. I would also suggest you contact the retailer where you purchased the plants if you are concerned about their progress since planting, since they are new shrubs. They will be able to help you analyze the growing conditions in the spot where they are planted and review your planting and care techniques to make sure all is well. From your description I am not sure if they have lost leaves at the tips or simply stopped putting out new growth. Leaf loss would not be a good sign but I should mention that new growth does taper off and turn dark green to match the rest of the plant, so what you are seeing may be quite normal in that regard. I'm sorry I can't tell you more specifically what is happening with your shrubs but I hope this helps you start the trouble shooting process.

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