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Saturday - May 31, 2014

From: Rockwall, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Pruning, Shrubs
Title: Decline of sheared dwarf hollies from Rockwall TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have 20 year old established dwarf yaupon hollies in front of the house that I trim every year and shape the same. This year the new growth that was 2 1/2 " long I noticed the new leaves were curling and falling off. So I have not shaped. All I did this spring was put new hardwood mulch in just like every year before. Then a nursery told me to spray an all around control for mites, aphids, etc which I did but it is not stopping the die back. What should I do?? I live in Rockwall, TX 25 miles east of Dallas


First, please read this  previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer partiucularly our comments on the projected age of a yaupon, as we are wondering if your plants could be suffering from old age, which happens. Of course, the dwarf yaupons are not, strictly speaking, in our Native Plant Database, but are cultivars of one of the native yaupons, probably of Ilex vomitoria (Yaupon), since that is the most common yaupon in Texas. We could not find any definitive information on how old they might get, so that didn't help much.

Then, we found this article from the Orlando Sentinel: Shearing can contribute to Yaupon Holly Decline ; which said:

"Q. Our yaupon holly hedge is dying in sections. Do you have a cure?

A. Native yaupon hollies are traditionally sheared and this may be part of the problem. Neat, compact hedges are often marred by dead, brown sections, especially during the summer months. A number of fungal organisms are encouraged by the consistently moist environment among the dense branches to begin growth and cause plant decline.

Try to revive the affected hedge by first pruning the dead portions back into healthy wood. Then apply a fungicide for ornamental plants found at your local garden center. As the hedge recovers, consider training it to a natural and open shape for better air movement among the limbs. This allows drying between rains or waterings. When pruning is needed, resist cutting the stems back to the same height to also encourage more open plant growth and quicker drying that prevents fungal activity."

Since that article refers to plants growing in Florida, the reference to applying a fungicide may not apply in dry Texas. So, we decided to search on the Internet for information on dwarf yaupons, of which there are several. The first thing we found was one of our own Mr. Smarty Plants previous questions specifically on dwarf yaupon, and also from Texas.

Moving farther on the Internet, we found that many of the references on dwarf yaupon were from Florida, so it must be quite popular there. Then, we found this one from the University of Florida Extension on Ilex Vomitoria 'Nana' Dwarf Yaupon Holly. This had a good deal more information on the management and culture of this plant and, since you have older plants, 'Nana" is probably the cultivar you have as it was one of the early ones.

We don't feel we have found a definitive answer for you and suggest you contact the County Extension Office for Rockwell County. If this is some kind of blight or disease or insect, they are more likely to know what it is than we are and can hopefully suggest a fix.



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