The Q&A Archives: Mountain Laurel problem

Question: Hello,
I purchased four Monrovia Mountain Laurels at a local nursery. I had them planted by a professional landscaper two weeks ago. Three of them look good, but one of them is loosing leaves and do not healthy. I water them, not excessively, every day. They all are in alkaline soil. What could be the problem, and what can I do to save the shrub? I find it strange that out of 4 similar plants, planted in the same yard, 1 is not thriving.

I will appreciate your advice.

Answer: Based on your description, I am worried about several points. These plants require an acid soil, so I would suggest you test your soil and work out a plant to acidify it as needed based on the test results. These plants also need an organic, humusy soil that is evenly moist yet well drained. This means it is damp but never soggy or saturated. If the soil is organic and the plants have a layer of organic mulch several inches deep over their root zones, you should not need to water daily. Your goal in watering is to supplement rain. To know if you need to water, dig into the soil with your finger. If it is still damp, do not water yet. When you do water, water slowly applying it at ground level over the entire root area so it soaks down deep, at least six inches for these plants. It is better to water thoroughly less often than to sprinkle lightly daily. Also make sure the mulch is no more than two to three inches deep for these plants; they need both air and moisture at their roots to stay healthy. Wilting can be a sign of overwatering or underwatering, it can be a sign of disease, it can be a sign of transplant shock, it can be a sign of planting too deeply. Since these are new and were professionally installed, I would strongly suggest you consult with the supplier and the installer right away. You may also want to consult with your county extenstion to try to obtain a specific diagnosis of what is happening. Once you know that, you can determine how to proceed from there. I hope it is not something that could spread to your other plants.

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