Sky Pencil Holly Dying

Filed Under: Trees, Shrubs, Diseases and Fungus · Keywords: Sky Pencil, Holly, Turning, Brown, Dying · 8129 Views
I removed some fairly large Cypress type evergreen trees from my front flowerbed (the previous owners planted them). We planted a variety of different types of plants in our revamped flowerbed to replace them. Of all the plants that we planted 4 sky pencils died within several months last year (turned brown and died). We watered and fertilized the soil and they still did not survive. We chalked it up to not healthy plants as everything else is thriving. I bought 4 more this spring from another nursery and one of them is already starting to turn brown and I am afraid I will lose the rest of them. Is there something in the soil that they do not like that was caused from the previous cypress trees? Any help is greatly appreciated. (Steve in Memphis)

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Answer #1 ·'s Answer · Steven, I have noticed over the years that Sky Pencil Holly get a condition called dieback. This is common in many plants. Dieback first shows up with a few branches turning brown. If the branches are not removed the dieback will spread to all other branches. It usually take a month or two for the plant to totally die. I had a customer bring back a Sky Pencil a few years back that had dieback. I gave him a new one. I pruned the infected branches off and planted it in my landscape. The plant is thick and full and about 3' tall. Dieback results in a canker somewhere along a stem. The canker blocks the flow of nutrients to the branch. It's best to trim the entire branch off or at least prune it off about 6" below the canker. The canker looks like a knotted up area along the stem. It's east to locate due to the fact that the stem will be dead back to the canker.
Other problems could include root rot or fungus. If the plant is overwatered or planted to deep root rot can set in. Root rot usually takes 2-6 months or longer to kill a plant. The plant will usually start browning at the tips of the leaves. Slowly the plant will totally die. Fungus on the stems and/or leaves could also be the problem. Did you spray the plants with a fungicide? Fungus could kill the plant in 2-3 weeks or longer, sometimes taking months.
Hope this information was of help.)

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Answer #2 · Steve Little's Answer · Thanks for the fast response. I did not spray for fungus because the first four plants wer spread out over a fairly large area and they all turned brown and died. This second set of four has only been in the ground about 4-6 weeks and I am seeing the brown return on one of them. I will take your advice and prune the brown off. I don't believe it is overwatered as the other plants around it are thriving so I don't think root rot is the cause. Again I really appreciate all the help!)

Additional comments about this answer: · Gardenality Genius · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
Check for the spider mites too, raise the root ball up a little if planted too deeply, and let us know how things turn out.

6 years ago ·
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Answer #3 · Doug Hansen's Answer · I just wanted to bring up a few things. Watering situations can vary between soil types, sun exposure, root-bound plants in the pot and the water needs of plants planted with or near the sky pencil. We have alot of clay here so we always plant high and do not put dirt on top of the rootball. Mulch yes but no dirt. Sky pencils in full sun will naturally use more than ones in a.m. sun only. Rootbound plants(plants that were just a mass of tightly packed roots and not much dirt) usually need to be watered more than you would think because the tightness of the rootball is not allowing enough water in to the center. The watering of nearby plants can have an effect depending on what they are and how close they are. Just some food for thought.)

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