Box Leaf Hebe (Buxifolia) dying

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by Deanne, Aug 31, 2018.

  1. Deanne

    Deanne Member

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    Hi,
    We lost a few of our well established hebe buxifolias last year. We replaced them this year and are now losing more. We have an irrigation system and they are not over watered. Does anyone know what might be causing this? I have taken some photos and in one I indicated the areas of loss with blue circles. Thanks in advance for any advice.
     

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  2. thanrose

    thanrose Active Member

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    Location:
    Jacksonville, FL USA USDA Zone 9
    Do you have cats, dogs, fox, raccoon, opossum or other animals that could be urinating repeatedly (scent marking) there? Most of them would be doing it at night, probably after midnight and before dawn, if that's what it is. Neatly kept pathway offers a giant billboard to passing critters to leave their postings. You could do a sniff test, or a soil test of the center surface of one of the sites, and a soil surface of a nearby unaffected site. You could either adjust the soil chemistry or replace the soil and plants. But if it's a local message board, they'll probably move a few inches up to start again.
     
  3. Deanne

    Deanne Member

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    Thanks for your response thanrose. We definitely have cats that wander through and a family of raccoons that enjoy playing in our protected yard through the night. Would changing the soil chemistry keep the marking behaviour from happening? If so, it is a small area ..maybe I could treat all the buxifolia in the area? What would I use to change the soil chemistry?
     
  4. thanrose

    thanrose Active Member

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    In The States we have agricultural extension offices in each county. They often have the best advice for soil testing, pest repellents, soil amendments, etc. BC is pretty forward thinking with ecology in general, so you probably have a city or county office you could call.

    With all of the conifers in coastal British Columbia, I'd imagine your soil is a little on the sandy and acid side. Since your plants have done well for years there, that's the soil profile you want to match. Test in two areas minimum, where everything is still satisfactory and where the damage is. That will tell you if the pH is off. If urine is the culprit, there are problems with two aspects. First, there are pheromones, hormones, scent markers that will resist easy neutralizing. And second, urine can contribute salts in excess of the local trace amounts.

    So, you'll need to remove all the plant material: the dead shrubs, the fallen leaves, any woody or porous mulch, and possibly an inch or two of soil. Most of the scent that we can't detect would be in all of that. (If you have access to a blacklight, you can try shining it on the area after dark to see if other shrubs, soil or hardscape also glow in ultraviolet light.) Then the soil test to see if you need to adjust the pH. Most times with infrequent urine marking, it will fade with time and nature, so once you've replaced a bit of soil, and the plants, and any mulch that may be enough. I personally would christen the area with a decent beer, with the thinking that the enzymes and yeast will do more to neutralize the pheromones than anything else I could do.

    Hope this helps you.
     
  5. evanniageorge

    evanniageorge New Member

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    I know with Hebes that you must tease out the roots very well when planting. They are often potbound. In addition do not over water a hebe. ||You can cut back hard into old wood and they may sprout back.
     
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