Waxleaf Privets Getting Thin

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Hi,

I have had a thriving hedge of waxleaf privets (Ligustrum ?) for about 11 years. This summer (about 4 months ago) I noticed some of the plants (about 6 out of 38) starting to lose their leaves. I haven't found any particular marks on the leaves (no brown spots, white spots, etc) they just seem to be falling off. I can't find anything unusual on the trunk. The place where the hedge is failing is in the middleit doesn't get any more or less shade, or more or less water than the rest of the hedge which is still doing fine. About a month ago I cleared away all the dead leaves from the under the plants, and applied some 15-15-15 fertilizer. I haven't noticed any improvement, but maybe it takes a while? I was drip watering the hedge 3x a week for several hours at a time (pretty slow drip), but I cut back to once a week thinking that maybe I was overwatering. As I mentioned before, the rest of the hedge is doing fine, so I can't understand why these particular plants are unhappy. I have some photos but I don't know how to post them.


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Maple Tree

Maple Tree · Gardenality Genius · Zone 10A · 30° to 35° F
Hi Nancy-Above this comment and to the right of your name below your question you will see 'Add a Picture' in blue text. Click on this and you will see how you can upload any pictures you have saved on your computer. A picture of the entire plant and an up close picture of the leaves hopefully will help to identify the problem. Let me know if you have any problems uploading your pictures. Are the leaves yellowing before falling off? Do they turn brown and or curl before falling? If you scratch a small spot of the bark of limbs off is the tissue under the bark green? If green the limbs are still alive. If brown they are dead. If you dig down six to 8 inches in spots around the shrubs does the soil feel cool and moist or does it feel wet or dry?

3 years ago ·
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Nancy Pistole

Nancy Pistole · Gardenality Seed · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
I uploaded some photos to show what the hedge looks like.

3 years ago ·
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Answer #2 · Maple Tree's Answer · Nancy-Seeing the white spotting on the trunks I thought the problem may have been boring insects but this evidently is not the case. Scale insects which look like white fuzzy spots suck the juices from the tree causing wilting, yellowing and eventual dying of the leaves. Normally these spots are a lot closer together causing larger patches of white colored areas that can be on the limbs and leaves also. I have a lot of these privets using them also as large hedges around my property. The trunks have small white spots that are normal on the bark but I had not seen any this large as are on your plants but being that they are only on the lower trunk and on all of your plants this may be normal. I don't see any signs of fungal disease at this time on the leaves which is normally indicated by spotting on the leaves. I would check the top and bottom surfaces of the leaves closely for any small insects moving from leaf to leaf. Very small insects such as aphids can may be seen on the underside of the leaves only. Aphids, Whiteflys, and other sap sucking insects can turn leaves yellow. You mentioned after inspecting the leaves you had not found any signs of insects or spotting of the leaves. Because of this I'm assuming at this time a problem in the soil such as too much water may be the problem. It looks as though the affected plants' leaves are turning yellow with the leaf veins staying green. This many times would indicate a nutrient deficiency but with the adjacent plants looking a nice green this is most likely not the problem. I would definitely check the soil moisture around these plants that are declining. It is not unusual for some plants in a hedge line to be affected more so than others. Many times areas of soil will drain much better than other areas that may be holding too much water. Too much water can yellow leaves. If problem persists leaves will not only turn yellow in color, brown and then drop but stems may start to die back. Stems dying back can indicate too wet a condition which has caused root rot. It looks as though some of the upper stems may be dying back. Check to see if these stems are still alive. You can scratch several small spots of the outer bark off with your finger nail. If the tissue under the bark is green the stem or limb is still alive. If brown the stem has died. I live in a very warm climate with a horrible drought that has been with us for some years now. Even with the drought conditions my large privet hedges do well with only a deep soaking every couple of weeks. Your privet plants are well established and should be extremely drought resistant. Deep soaking your plants 3 times a week may have saturated the soil around some of these plants causing the problem. I would again check and make sure the soil is not too wet, cut back on the watering, and check to see if the leafless stems are still alive. At this time I wouldn't do any more fertilization. With the cooler seasons here now the plants growth will slow down not needing fertilization. It is also best not to force new growth this time of year before possible freezing temperatures. It is best also not to force new growth on plants that may be under some sort of stress. Let me know what you find when checking the soil moisture and whether the upper stems are still alive or dead. You might also check to see if your local quality nursery has an arborist that can inspect the plants closely. You can also contact your Cooperative Extension Service. Many times they will have an arborist that may be of help also.

John)


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Nancy Pistole

Nancy Pistole · Gardenality Seed · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
Thank you very much for your analysis. I think you are right, that maybe the soil drains a bit differently. I think I have definitely been overwatering, because the more the hedge looked bad, the more water I gave it! We recently had rain (unusual!) but I will stop watering and monitor the soil moisture. I will also check the condition (green or brown) of the upper branches.

3 years ago ·
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Maple Tree

Maple Tree · Gardenality Genius · Zone 10A · 30° to 35° F
Nancy-Let me know how the plants are doing as you let the soil dry out somewhat. Also let me know if you start to see any changes in the leaf coloring or if any spotting appears. What Is your location, city and state. This may help to know the weather and amounts of rain that could be a problem.

3 years ago ·
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Answer #1 · Maple Tree's Answer · Hi Nancy-There are a few things I'm thinking the problem may be. It looks as though the leaves on the thinning plants are turning more yellow before dropping. I would dig down around these plants and make sure the soil is not staying too wet. The soil may not be draining as well in this area as it may be for the other plants. It you could take a close up picture of the white spots I see on the trunks it may help also to know if this may be a problem from the Ambrosia Beetle. Do these white spots protrude out from the trunk? Ambrosia beetles will bore into the trunks of privet and fill the holes back in with a sawdust called frass from the boring into the wood. Below these areas if they are holes bored by beetles there may be some of this sawdust on the ground. Let me know what you find when checking the soil moisture and upload a close up picture of the white spots on the trunks. I noted a previous question regarding the decline of privet hedges and an article on the Ambrosia beetle. From what I can see if this is the Ambrosia beetle it will be best to take out and destroy these plants before the other plants are infested. Once these beetles have entered the plants they are extremely difficult to kill or control.

http://www.gardenality.com/Questions/2549/Plants/Shrubs/Ash-Like-Sticks-Coming-Out-Of-Privet-Hedge.html#

http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/ent/notes/O&T/trees/note111/note111.html

John)


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Nancy Pistole

Nancy Pistole · Gardenality Seed · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
I added a close up photo of the trunk. These little white nodules are on all of the plants, so I don't think they are the culprit. I scraped a few off, but there are no holes underneath.

3 years ago ·
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