The Q&A Archives: Dark Knight Blue Beard

Question: In the spring of 2005, we planted 2 Dark Knight Blue Beard plants. The did very well last year and the beginning of this year. One of the plants is beginning to show signs of death. The center of the plant began to appear wilted and over the last two weeks has nearly died which is isolated to the center of the plant.

Help, I love my Dark Knight.

Answer: Caryopteris is generally quite pest and disease free, so there is no "usual culprit" to suggest. These plants are usually pruned back very hard in late winter to early spring because of winter damage, sometimes all the way to the ground. You might inspect the main stem and branches carefully and see if there is a crack or other winter damage to it that would interfere with the internal circulation and cause the wilting. This is a plant that requires a well drained soil, so if you have heavy clay soil or have it in a low spot where water collects, it could have a bit of crown rot or root problem due to poor drainage. This would also show as wilting symptoms. Trim out the wilted portion and trim back the rest to help it look a little more symmetrical. It should still bloom as it blooms on new growth.

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