holly and leafdrop

Discussion in 'Woody Plants' started by mburns, Mar 3, 2003.

  1. mburns

    mburns Member

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    Every winter we lose a portion of leaves off the lower branches of our holly trees which are replaced (90%) by summer. Over the years this has resulted in bare branches on the lower parts of the trees. The leaves have various sizes of dusky brown spots on them and are otherwise normal, many almost appear normal.
    Aside from the tree damage it is a nuisance in that we have to (we are told) dispose of all the leaves rather than compost. We are against the use of any chemicals to solve this problem. Any suggestuions?
     
  2. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    There is a great probability that your holly is suffering from a disease called holly leaf blight (Phytophthora ilicis). This disease causes leaf and twig blight ("blights" are characterized by the rapid dying back of tissues). Symptoms of this disease can be slight, but the disease often becomes more severe in rainy and cool weather. The disease can be controlled (to some extent) by the use of cultural techniques.

    Infections are caused by a microorganism that prefers moist conditions. Improving air circulation will discourage the proliferation of spores and reduce disease pressure. Infected leaves and branches will die, but are also the source of spores for new infections, so rake up and remove fallen leaves. Prune dead branches only in dry weather (open wounds are potential infection sites) and compost these well away from holly trees, or remove the material entirely. Bare soil beneath the tree may be a contributor to disease, as the organism is effectively rain-splashed from minute plant parts into the lower branches. Turf or ground-covering plants can help reduce rain-splash.

    Fixed copper sprays may be an effective prophylactic when used in the autumn.

    Holly also suffers from other diseases, such as holly scab and holly canker but these problems are rare. Scale insects are common on hollies locally, and will cause defoliation, but sooty mould, which grows on the sugary deposits made by the scales, is very distinctive and would not be confused with other problems. Boron deficiency causes spotting on leaves and defoliation, but these symptoms appear on the younger foliage, and this is a rare problem in gardens.
     
  3. holly tree leaf drop continued

    I have the same problem, but the leaf drop is only at the top of the trees not the bottom. Is it the same problem? I live in the northeast and had wondered if the harsh winters had been the reason. The trees are very tall (appx20ft) and are quite exposed to the wind.


     
  4. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    If you are growing English holly (Ilex aquifolium), chances are that the most exposed foliage is being burned by winter cold (I. aquifolium is evidently only hardy to coastal southern New England). Summer heat may also be a problem (i.e., creating stress), as this species seems to prefer cooler summer weather.

    Bacterial blight has been reported in holly in the northeast, and this could promote leaf drop anywhere it becomes established in the crown, but the withered tips of affected branches are distinctive.
     
  5. We live on Cape Cod Massachusetts and had a severe winter. Our holly tree, which is about 10feet tall, has lost all the leaves. The leaves are dying from the tip to the base, and many have spots on them. We have raked under the tree. Will the tree come back? We are also wondering is there any kind of fertilising we can do to help bring back the tree. After all it is, was beautiful tree and I hate to see it like this.
     
  6. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    Depending on what kind of holly you have (e.g., English - Ilex aquifolium, American - I. opaca, Nellie Stevens, Meserve hybrid or other) will determine, at least to some degree, whether the tree will survive. English holly is not well-adapted to winter extremes, while American holly should be hardy enough to survive; however, according to Michael Dirr (Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, Stipes Publishing), that species is not wind tolerant. Other hybrid hollies are tougher and there are many from which to choose.

    In my opinion, the first order of business is to determine whether the tree is actually alive (carefully scape a small patch of the stem to see if the tissues are green beneath). Second, you should figure out what kind of holly you have, as this may determine any subsequent course of action. A local nursery, registered arborist or county extension agent can probably help out there.

    Good luck.
     
  7. same issues Manchester NH re leaf drop

    reading your comments re bacterial blight on holly your note regarding the end of the stalk browning and drying up leads me here- any solution to the issue other than cleaning it up? Feed the bush ? A spray of some sort?
    It is against the house with three other of these smaller holly bushes (5 years old). Only one seems to be affected. They are in a planting with several other bushes, get considerable sun winter and summer and are close to (not directly under) the eaves of the house so they will get runoff from rain and snowmelt.
    Looking at some of the leaves there appears to be a white spinkle of granules on some of them. Is this the other issue - again is there a solution to the problem short of transplanting?

    Ron
     
  8. John Washbrook

    John Washbrook Member

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    holly leaf drop

    Our mature holly tree (English native, presumably) is shedding young leaves by the hundred if not thousands. The fallen leaves are smooth-edged (ie no prickles) and at first glance look to be in good condition - dark green and glossy - although on closer inspection there is some paler and some darker blotching. There are also a few very small (0.2 mm?) spots on the underside of some of the leaves that might be very small scale insects. They come off easily by lifting with a fingernail. We have had a fairly mild winter. There was some very windy weather a few weeks ago, but the leaves do not look scorched. I have seen "There is a great probability that your holly is suffering from a disease called holly leaf blight (Phytophthora ilicis)" in another message and wonder if this is the cause. Our tree is growing at the top of a six foot high bank on sandy soil, though. The ground underneath has not been cultivated, although we have recently cleared away a lot of leaf litter.

    It is very distressing to see the ground covered with these healthy-looking leaves.

    We have been told that there was a new report recently of a holly disease that has come over to England from North America, but have not been able to find a reference to it.

    Any thoughts/advice/information would be much appreciated.

    John
     
  9. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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  10. From: artmama50@hotmail.com
    I had to trim several large branches from Nellie Stevens hollies. At the base of the branches are parrallel grooves about 1/16" wide and 1" long. It looks like the bark was peeled back. I had to cut the top half of a 12" tall hooly because the numerous parrellel grooves were 3" long. What is causeing the problem?
     
  11. galeleo

    galeleo Member

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    I live in West Vancouver, BC, Canada. Rains all the time. I read the message from Douglas Justice about what I can do for my holly tree because it seems to suffer from holly leaf and twig blight. But what is meant by a "Fixed Copper Spray" and how do I do this or where can I get it?

    Thank you.
     
  12. usds100

    usds100 Member

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    I have a row of approximately 15 hollies that dropping leaves. Their dropping new leaves also. You can shake the branch, or just touvh the branch, and leaves fall off.

    Their dying (browning) in what seems like a pattern. I thought it may be leaf blight but it hasn't been raining. These plants are in Georgia and it's been hot and dry. I don't know how long they have been falling off.

    Can you help identify the problem?
     

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  13. misty123

    misty123 Member

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    I have a hot tub which i have drained out around the area of the holly tree on 3 occasions. The things used in the tub i was told would not harm the grass and I have seen no damage to the grass. There have been times when chlorine was used in the tub, but i was told if you left the tub for a week with no further additives then no harm would come to the garden.
    The winter we have had in North Wales has been wet and warm , the previous two years being cooler and less wet. My holly tree is about 10 ft high and was doing very
    well, it is in an exposed corner of the garden with conifirs to one side and a lilac to the other. Is it possible that the tree has leaf blight or could the drainage of the hot tub be to blame? The tree has lost most of the leaves on one side up to the crown and all the others look pale or yellow with big black spots yet late last year it looked well. Will it survive?
     
  14. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Usds100's Chinese holly look like they may have a severe mite infestation.
     
  15. misty123

    misty123 Member

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    not sure what chinese holly looks like, mine would have wonderful white blooms but no red berries
     
  16. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    I'm wondering if Misty and USDS100 have looked at the links I gave to John to see if any of the symptoms fit the pests and diseases there, though in Misty's case, it sounds more like root damage to one side of the tree. Was the hot tub drained on the side where the damage is? Was the water hot when drained? Did any equipment or people walk on the root system on that side of the tree?

    Chlorine will kill germs and bacteria. It could be that the chlorine in the water destroyed too much beneficial bacteria in the soil as the pH will effect how effective chlorine is. Most hollies prefer a more acid soil below a pH of 7.0. Take a look here.
    http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/chem03/chem03176.htm
    http://www.cdc.gov/healthyswimming/ph_chlorine.htm

    Newt
     
  17. misty123

    misty123 Member

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    no the hot tub was drained on the opposite side about 2ft from the base of the tree, the side that is most damamgeds is right up against a dry wall in soil that is about a 2-3ft mound,diont know if tyhats the reason
     
  18. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Misty, it could be the dry conditions of the wall. Another thought that comes to mind is if the wall is new and has concrete. There could be lime leaching out of the wall. The soil might be too dry there or there could be some type of root damage on that side of the plant. Maybe you could GENTLY dig down and expose the roots there to have a look.

    Newt
     
  19. misty123

    misty123 Member

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    sounds about right ,the root damage couyld be the problem but i dont know what to do about it. the dry wall is not mine and i cant move the tree it must be at least 30 years old or more. Any suggestions would be appreciated.Thanks, and thanks for the advice so far.
     
  20. Newt

    Newt Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Misty, how old is the wall? Has that been built within the last 5 or 6 years?

    I just read back and you said there is a 2' to 3' mound. Was the mound added sometime after the tree was planted? Could that side of the tree have dirt piled against the trunk?

    Could this be a wind problem? Did you look at those links?

    Newt
     

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