struggling Sarcocca ruscifolia

Discussion in 'Woody Plants' started by growing4it, Sep 11, 2007.

  1. growing4it

    growing4it Active Member 10 Years

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    I love the scent of sweet box. I have a sweetbox and I thought that these shrubs are drought and shade tolerant. I'm hoping that there is something different that I can do to help this plant thrive.

    It's protected under an overhang on the northside of a building next to an airvent. Would more regular watering be enough. Would composted mushroom manure help? ...more sunlight? Should I just accept the location and move it?

    Thanks
     
  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    What's it doing?
     
  3. growing4it

    growing4it Active Member 10 Years

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    Right, I forgot to get to that part. The leaves look withered, yellow and 'thin'. The shrub is not full-looking. Is there any hope?
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Depends on what the specific issue is. How long has it been planted there? Might the potting soil it came in be decomposed and leached? These seem to be prone to this making them sparse and pale.

    With plants in general when there is a poor top I want to look at the roots, see what may be happening to them.
     
  5. levilyla

    levilyla Active Member

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    Once this gets going it really takes off...it is drought tolerant once established. It dislikes wet feet..winter sun. Try cutting back the top..it may come back very nicely.
     
  6. growing4it

    growing4it Active Member 10 Years

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    Thanks for the advice. I'll check the soil and give it a trim.
     
  7. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Cutting the top back won't do anything to help it. It needs to have the source of distress identified and rectified, rather than an amputation.
     
  8. Garden Prince

    Garden Prince Member

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    Although Sarcococca is often advertised as shade and drought tolerant my experience is that they perform better when the ground is not to dry and are planted in a place that is not too dark. An ideal place is where the morning sun shines but shady in the afternoon. Too much (scorching) sun after 12 pm will cause yellowing of the leaves.
     
  9. growing4it

    growing4it Active Member 10 Years

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    will leaves grow again on bare branches?
     
  10. levilyla

    levilyla Active Member

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    Yes...I cut mine all back this spring after flowering to stubs...believe me it will come back. UNLESS there is something else going on as Ron suggested.
     
  11. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I have had trouble getting this plant established as well. They just never took off and did not thrive, yet I saw them growing quite happily in other's yards. I never thought to dig them up and check the roots, which is what I would do now. From Ron's post, sounds like this is an issue for this plant. Perhaps they remain in their pots too long at the nursery and get tangled roots or are sold with very depleted soil. Sounds like one of those plants that really needs to have its roots cleaned an inspected at planting time.

    Perhaps Ron will elaborate on the issues around getting this plant established. I would like to get a bed of it going at my current home.
     
  12. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    Depleted potting soil I think is what I see here. But there could also be a recurring problem with a water mold or other pathogenic organism, of course, perhaps sometimes in conjunction with the soilless potting medium having decomposed into a near muck condition.

    I don't think weevils bother these much, if at all, but if you get a heavy buildup of these on a plant the disappearing root system will transfer into a diminishing top growth. Planting beds under building overhangs and low-branching coniferous evergreens appear to be prime habitat for weevils, as most severe damage seems to be seen mostly in such locations.

    Plants in good condition are certainly able to grow back readily from severe top pruning, if the altered crown shape resulting from a good whack is thought desireable then a payoff can be realized. However, even healthy plants must draw on nutriens stored in remaining stems and roots to replace lost top growth. A declining plant will simply be tortured by having the top substantially reduced, and may not be able to produce a vigorous response. Its health will certainly not be improved by top pruning.
     
  13. growing4it

    growing4it Active Member 10 Years

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    I wanted to post an update. A couple of months ago I topdressed with composted manure and have been watering more regulary. There's new growth!!! I'll keep this up and hopefully the spring air will be filled with the intoxicating fragrance of sweetbox.
     
  14. janetdoyle

    janetdoyle Active Member 10 Years

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    I am about to post on this plant and I am wondering how it is doing? Perhaps being planted too close to the foundation was the problem, the water was draining away too fast into the surrounding drainage system...
     

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