The Q&A Archives: Ligustrum

Question: Our builder planted ligustrum as a hedge several years ago. We have had very little growth and the leaves look anemic and new growth curls up into a tight roll. What should I do?

Answer: Ligustrum is a highly adaptable shrub so having it struggle in the garden is disappointing. I can only guess that it is not getting the nutrients it needs from the soil or that the soil remains too wet or is too hard for the roots to be able to explore. If you want to retain the shrubs you'll need to do a little detective work and try to improve the growing conditions. Water as you normally do, wait 2-3 days and then dig down near the roots to check the soil moisture level. If it's soggy wet, it doesn't drain quickly enough, if it's bone dry, it drains too fast and you will need to water more frequently. While you're digging around, break a few of the small roots and check inside. Healthy roots are a creamy white; diseased or dead roots are brown or rusty colored. The curling leaves may indicate a lack of nutrients or they could be the result of aphids. Uncurl a few of the leaves. If you find aphids, you can control them with Insecticidal soap. How this information helps you determine just why your ligustrums are not thriving.

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