Butterfly (tree Type) Bush Has Lost All Of Its Leaves - Knowledgebase Question

Medford, NY
Question by hammer05
July 13, 2002
Was Told By You It Could Be Spiders. Used Garden And Pet Dust And Also Fed It Miracle Gro Bloom Booster It Starts To Grow New Leaves And Looks Like There Are More Starting But The Tip Of The Leaves Start Turning Brown At The Tip And Soon Die What Care Is Needed To Stop This And Every Day Care. There Might Have Been Some Water (fifty Gallons) With A Small Amount Of Bleach Siphoned On The Tree Roots Could This Have Done This? Was Told By You It Could Be Spiders. Used Garden And Pet Dust And Also Fed It Miracle Gro Bloom Booster It Starts To Grow New Leaves And Looks Like There Are More Starting But The Tip Of The Leaves Start Turning Brown At The Tip And Soon Die What Care Is Needed To Stop This And Every Day Care. There Might Have Been Some Water (fifty Gallons) With A Small Amount Of Bleach Siphoned On The Tree Roots Could This Have Done This?all leaves have died looks like more want to grow as new ones start to grow the tips start turning brown was told by you that it could spiders i did see a small yellow one in the begining of the leaves dying and buds did use no-pest garden and pest dust and also miracle gro bloom booster also shortly before a fifty gallon (full water) drum with 1/2 cup of bleach in about week was siphoned on the bush by accident could this have shocked it it loks like it wants to make a come back but can't get around the corner. thank you again


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Answer from NGA
July 13, 2002

0

Butterfly bushes are usually pest-dree so I would look more carefully at the growing conditions for the cause of the defoliation. These plants need a full sun location (sun all day long) and although drought tolerant, bloom best with an evenly moist but well drained soil, meaning not a soggy one.

During the establishment phase, say the first year they are in the ground, the soil should be kept evenly moist (damp not soaking wet) and you should use your finger to make sure that both the original potting mix and the surrounding soil are moist because sometimes they dry out at different speeds. It is important to keep the surrounding soil damp to encourage teh roots to grow into it. Apply several inches of organic mulch to help keep the soil more evenly moist and to keep down weeds. The mulch will also help feed the soil when it breaks down over time.

Defoliation can be caused by overwatering and by underwatering. It can also be caused by overfertilization using a granular fertilizer, or by using a liquid fertilizer at the wrong dilution rate or on a very high temperature day, and/or possibly even by chemical applications. I would also surmise that the water leak made the soil too saturated and stressed the plant severely, and as it dries out and moisture level returns to more normal, I would look for some improvement.

At this point, I would suggest you allow the plant some time to recover. Just water as needed to keep the soil evenly moist, but not dripping wet. (Remember to check down an inch or so with your finger.) It is better to water deeply about once every five days or once a week than every day. Mulch if you haven't already.

Try to be patient and allow several weeks for it to try to leaf out and grow. If it can do that, it should still bloom for you later this summer. Once it comes back into active growth and the leaves are several inches long, you could fertilize it with a water soluble fertilizer for flowering plants, but not exceed the amounts on the label and stop fertilizing by mid September. You could also apply some compost to the root zone.

Good luck with your butterfly bush.

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