The Q&A Archives: Sand cherry shrub

Question: I purchased and planted 3 sand cherry shrubs last year in the late summer.I purchased then on clearance at my local wal-mart. They looked a little peaked but otherwise fine. They seemed to thrive and looked great this spring (08)& bloomed well. As the season has progressed they have started losing their foliage at approx. the top third of the plant and have not thrived. (plants are approx. 4' tall) I did use a fertilizer enhanced potting mixture when I planted. They have declined all season, Is it possible that they are diseased or lacking some kind of nutrients as I have 2 other plants that were purchased at a local nursery that are doing very well. Should I remove these, is it possible they can affect my other plantings?

Answer: I wouldn't give up on your sand cherries just yet. Because you bought them on clearance, they had probably spent an entire summer in the nursery pots, which may have restricted the roots too much. Add that to the fact that they may not have been watered regularly and it's only natural to expect them to be a little slow in recouperating from their ordeal. It sounds like you planted them properly and based upon their performance this spring, I'd guess the roots are healthy enough to support the plant. So, what you're seeing now sounds more like a response to heat stress than to disease or decline. I would prune them back a bit to encourage healthy new growth and be sure to water them deeply once each week to encourage new root growth. Don't feed them - they're already stressed. Wait until next spring and lightly feed then. And, after they have finished blooming next year, prune them back again. I think they'll snap out of it. If, by next summer they still are not thriving, you can replace them.

Best wishes with your landscape!

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