The Q&A Archives: Compact Cherry Laurels sick

Question: I planted cherry laurels May of last year. They are well watered. They were fertilized last fall with a general fertilizer. They are in full sun and are mulched. They do not appear to have any fungus or blight. The leaves are not bright yellow, but are a light green. After the winter they lost leaves; now have half the leaves they used to. What have I done wrong? What can I do to save them?

Answer: It sounds to me as though you are doing everything right and the symptoms you describe do not fit the usual problems experienced by cherry laurels, or the usual suspects. Yellowing leaves can indicate insect feeding or root problems. But there is a leaf spot fungi that can defoliate a cherry laurel. However, it causes red spots on the leaves of cherry laurel shrubs about the time new leaves become full-sized. New spots continue to develop over the summer. They gradually merge and rot out, leaving holes in the foliage. Heavily infected leaves turn yellow or brown and fall prematurely. Cool, moist spring weather encourages this disease when new leaves are developing. It is sometimes a minor problem in cherry laurel. Shake out all fallen and diseased leaves from the shrub and destroy them. Remove all dead branches in the center of the shrub to allow better aeration. Mulching helps prevent the disease spores from splashing up from the ground and infecting plants. Leaf spot rarely is severe. However, if it causes a shrub to become unsightly, spray at weekly to 10-day intervals with sulfur or Bordeaux mixture or other copper fungicide, starting when the blossom petals fall. If this doesn't see to fit the problem you might want to take a few specimen leaves to your local cooperative extension office for diagnosis. (find them in the white pages of your phone book under "County" offices). Best wishes with your cherry laurels.

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