The Q&A Archives: what could be wrong with these bushes?

Question: I have a couple of questions regarding shrubs and bushes we recently planted as well as a question about a maple tree that is growing on our property.
1. We planted 4 dwarf rhododendron along the front of our house 3 of them look great. The 4th however now has several branches/leaves that have turned brown. What might the problem be.
2. Our blue prince holly has started dropping several of it's lower leaves otherwise it appears healthy and has definitely increased in size. Is the leaf drop normal?
3. We also planted a flowering quince and we've noticed some of it's leaves mainly lower ones have turned yellow, dried up and fallen off, is this normal?
4. We have 2 highbush blueberry bushes, a few days after they were planted the birds were after them. We did not have any netting and I was not going to be able to get netting until the next day. I covered the two bushes with clear plastic bags which I cut numerous holes in for air flow. The next day we were able to cover them with netting. One of the bushes is doing really well but, the other has lost all it's leaves and really dosen't look well. What can we do? Can this bush be saved?
5. We noticed a maple tree on our property has a branch where all the leaves have red on them, it almost looks as if they have red paint on them. We don't see it any where else on the tree. What is this?
Thank You for any information.

Answer: Wow! What an interesting series of questions! First, the maple tree. If you can get a close look at the leaves and find the red coloration is red, you've got maple gall. These are tiny insects that pierce a hole in the leaf and exude a substance that causes the leaf tissue to become hard and red. They won't hurt your tree and elimination is difficult because chemical sprays cannot penetrate the galls. I'd just leave them alone. As for the blueberries, I think the plastic bag trick excluded enough oxygen and included enough heat and humidity to defoliate your shrub. A healthy shrub will replace the lost leaves so just give it some time to recover. Anything but plastic can be used to keep birds away from the fruit - an old sheet or tablecloth would have been much better for your plant! Yellowing leaves on a quince isn't anything to be concerned about. Quince will drop its lower leaves as it produces new growth. As long as the plant looks otherwise healthy, don't be concerned about the falling leaves. As for your holly, since it is an evergreen it will retain its leaves for 3-4 years but after that amount of time evergreens shed their oldest leaves in favor of replacing them with healthy new leaves. Springtime is a natural time for this to happen. Finally, the rhodie problem. Many things can cause leaves and branches to turn brown; fungal infections, root rot (from poorly draining soils), and high soil pH are the most common reasons. Transplant shock is another possibility. At this point I'd just continue to give the plant good care and see how the new growth comes out later this summer. If it is still failing to thrive by the end of summer, dig it up and inspect the root system and planting hole. Add some organic matter if the soil isn't draining well and then replant and water well to help settle the soil.

Best wishes with your landscape!

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