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A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - April 01, 2008

From: Omaha, NE
Region: Midwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Shrubs
Title: Reason for die-back of native Mahonia repens
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have several mahonia repens plants planted on my property. This is the third spring for them and I have noticed that they look like they might be dying out. The leaves have turned brown and are curled. Some of the plants have actually lost their leaves. Are they in fact dying or was it some kind of winter kill?

ANSWER:

Mahonia repens (creeping barberry) has medium water use. Overwatering and lack of water can both cause the type of damage you are asking about. According to the USDA Plant Profile on this plant, it is naturally located only in the northwest corner of Nebraska. Since Douglas County is on the eastern edge of Nebraska, there may be a soil issue involved. Mahonia repens does best in rich sandy, chalky or granitic soils, which may not be available in eastern Nebraska.

Mahonia is susceptible to rusts and leaf spots. Chlorosis (lack of iron) can be a problem in acidic soils. Leaf scorch may occur in winter, especially when plants are grown in exposed areas. Occasional insect visitors include aphids, scale and whitefly.

This University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension County Offices website will give you contact information for the Douglas County extension offices, which can probably give you more definite information on the type of problem you are having, and whether it is something that can be fixed.


Mahonia repens

Mahonia repens

Mahonia repens

Mahonia repens

 

 

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