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Monday - August 11, 2014

From: Midland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Watering, Shrubs
Title: Recovery of water-stressed Agarita
Answered by: Guy Thompson

QUESTION:

Hello! I planted a small agarita at the end of May and then left town for six weeks. During that time it was supposed to receive weekly deep irrigations to help it establish, but it seems that some weeks were missed and that in the other weeks the water may have been excessive. It now has many brown leaves - some entirely brown and some that are only green still in the very center. It really looks bad, though there are a few new young leaves that seem a healthy blue-green color. It also has three patches of webbing on it, but I don't see any holes in leaves. I was advised it may have been overwatered in my absence, so I have not yet watered it in the three weeks I've been home since (we did have a good rain nearly two weeks ago and I plan to water in a couple days.) Unfortunately it doesn't look any better than it did when I got home. Any advice for saving my plant? Thank you!

ANSWER:

Once established, Mahonia trifoliolata (Agarita) is pretty tough, surviving severe mistreatment of the above-ground parts.  If the roots of your plant have taken hold at all, the plant should recover if you prune off the dead branches, leaving only the green leaf-bearing stems.  If in doubt, scrape the bark on a questionable branch.  If green shows under the bark the branch is still alive.  Revove the webbing - there may still be barberry webworms inside.  They may have eaten many of the emerging new leaves.  Keep the soil moist.  If it feels moist to your finger that is enough.  Mulch the base of the plant to help conserve moisture.

Agarita grows relatively slowly.  I would give your plant plenty of time to reover, perhaps even pampering it well into the autumn.

 

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