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Thursday - June 14, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Shrubs
Title: Stem canker or leaf fungus in Morella cerifera
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

Dear Mr.Smarty Pants: The upper half of our wax myrtle, which we had allowed (with artful pruning) to reach about ten feet suddenly died this spring (it dropped most of its leaves and didn't sprout any new ones). It is sprouting madly at the base and along its lowest branches. Do you think it was stressed by the ice storm? Or did it not like being trimmed into an ornamental tree shape? There are bugs all over the dead part, but I can't see any bug damage. What is the life span of a wax myrtly? We live in Austin.

ANSWER:

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) is generally resistant to disease and insect problems, though stem canker and a leaf fungus can sometimes attack individual plants. Your plant may have been affected by a stem canker disease. Prune the dead wood back until you find living tissue. Since your plant has already started sprouting from the base, it would be wise to cut back all of the old top to encourage the new growth from the base of the plant. This will also serve to isolate the healthy part of the plant at the base from the diseased material higher up. Judicious pruning of the new growth may also be necessary to keep it thinned and under control.

 

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