Ask a Question forum: Hedges losing branches

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Glendale, CA
Kim596
Nov 20, 2017 3:37 PM CST
Hi, I live near Los Angeles area and my question is about Japanese hedges that I have grown for past 20 years near my house. Since last year, some plants stopped branching off. Stems got naked and eventually whole plant died and i ended up replacing several of them. I dug up around the roots and no abnormal signs that I could see. Attached pictures show this condition happening on another side opposite to where I lost several plants. Anything I can do to save them please? Thank you in advance!
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Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Nov 21, 2017 10:19 AM CST
Just a general thought. Are you using weed killers on the adjacent lawn? I would also remove the ivy that's seen in one of the photos. Might be too much competition for nutrients. Do you mulch the shrubs with anything? You might try mulching with some compost for a little nutrition for them.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Nov 21, 2017 7:49 PM CST
How old is the average life of your species?
I do not know what does it but many hedges I knew of over decades finally went kaput as gaps of dead bushes happened.

Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Nov 21, 2017 8:19 PM CST
That's a good thought RpR. I was also thinking that it might be due to something Shadegardener said: Competition for nutrients, not necessarily from the ivy but from the other shrubs in the hedge.

Old shrub hedges have a few problems: Inability to absorb moisture because of root congestion and competion for nutrients in the root zone. But I also see this hedge is sitting on top of a wall so nutrients and moisture are only available from one direction.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Glendale, CA
Kim596
Nov 22, 2017 4:37 PM CST
Thank you all for your input. I do not know what is the life expectancy of these hedges but the local nursery thinks that these are tough species for long life. Where can I look up life expectancy? I do not use any Weed killers on my lawn and if competition for nutrients is an issue, then why all of a sudden several spots are experiencing this after 20 years. My Gardner thinks it might be due to the sprinkler pipe directly below the plants (about 8") but again they've been fine all this time. This is a big mystery and it's very costly to replace them with mature 10-15 gal plants because of established roots and the space they need. Thank you again.
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Nov 22, 2017 5:02 PM CST
There is also a disease called Botryosphaeria Dieback (or some such mouthful) that can cause branch death in a number of hedge plants including Ligustrum.
Porkpal
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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DaisyI
Nov 22, 2017 7:08 PM CST
I doubt its Botryosphaeria Dieback but here is some info from the University of California.

http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/r3021...

I suspect your plants have just reached their limit for growing where they are growing: against a wall, crowded next to other shrubs, struggling for moisture and nutrients. The same reasons you have a difficult time digging an adequate hole to plant more shrubs is what is killing your current shrubs. The roots grow so tightly together that there is no way water or nutrients can get into the rootball.

Also, your gardener's pruning techniques may be partially to blame. When does your gardener prune and how? Those shrubs look pretty tidy for this time of year.
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

Webmaster: osnnv.org
Glendale, CA
Kim596
Nov 23, 2017 3:43 PM CST
I am reviewing all comments and truly appreciate all your input. Today I dug up a little to show you the roots, spacing and and Sprinkler pipe. I didn't want to go any deeper and accidentally damage the roots. There seem to be spacing between the roots and the pipe is not directly below the roots so it's puzzling. I replaced a few inches of soil with good fresh soil and I do this once or twice the year along with additional fertilizer for all Hedges. It could be fungus, aging or even malnutrition, who knows. Only if they could talk! Well, you all have a great thanksgiving.


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