En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Browning leaves on non-native Burford holly

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - August 22, 2008

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Non-Natives, Compost and Mulch, Transplants
Title: Browning leaves on non-native Burford holly
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have several dwarf Burford hollies whose leaves are browning. The individual leaves have colors of green, dark brown to light brown extending from the stem. Any ideas?

ANSWER:

Ilex cornuta (USDA Forest Service), Burford Holly, is a non-native perennial evergreen shrub. Since it is sometimes referred to as "Chinese" holly, we are assuming that the natural origin is in China or other parts of Asia. They grow best in rich, well-drained, slightly acid soil. At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we recommend the use of plants native to North America and to the area in which they are being grown, because they will be better adapted to the environment, needing less water, fertilizer and maintenance. However, we will try to help you out with some information.

Tea scale (North Carolina Cooperative Extension) is one of the pests that can cause similar symptoms. It apparently originated the same place as the Burford hollies. China and Japan, and was imported into the United States on Camellias.

Aphids (Virginia Cooperative Extension). Light infestations are usually not harmful to plants, but higher aphid populations cause leaf curl, wilting, stunting of shoot growth as well as general decline in plant vigor.

You didn't say when you had planted the bushes. If it was fairly recently, they might be suffering from transplant shock. In which case, trimming off the upper 1/4 to 1/3 of the plant, leaving as many green leaves as possible for nutrition should be your first step. Next, we have a clue in the fact that this plant prefers acid soil, and we all know that in Austin, it's way alkaline. Try working some compost or other organic material in around the roots of the plants, then mulch with shredded bark compost or pine needles. These will not only help the texture and drainage of the soil, but add to the acidity. Now, stick a hose deep down in the soil and let it dribble water slowly until water appears on the surface. If the water stays more than half an hour or so, you have poor drainage, but the continued use of organic material and mulch should begin to address that. And,of course,we always have the fact that this has been a long, difficult, dry Summer in Central Texas and everything, including people, seems to be turning brown and curling. If none of these appear to be the problem, we suggest you contact the Travis County Extension Office, in hopes they will be aware of similar problems in the area and have recommendations.

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Transplant time for Virginia Beach, VA
July 08, 2009 - I have a friend who is not a gardener but lives on a piece of property that has a gorgeous back yard with lots of plants, shrubs and trees that are becoming overgrown. I have her permission to dig up...
view the full question and answer

Will recycled tire mulch harm butterfly larvae?
December 05, 2012 - I discovered orange butterfly larva in the hardwood mulch under my Turk's Cap. Will it harm the larva if I switch over to recycled tire mulch?
view the full question and answer

Dog wallowing in damp area in garden from Great Bend KS
March 20, 2013 - I Have a wet area in my back yard that is close to my house. and off my patio there is a water hydrant,gas meter, electrical for my hot tub, my sprinkler valves and pump all there. My dog digs throug...
view the full question and answer

Deer-resistant groundcover for New Braunfels, TX
September 24, 2011 - Could you recommend some deer resistant ground cover plants for the New Braunfels area? We have tried Ajuga and Katie's Ruellia and they have been eaten.
view the full question and answer

Brown leaves on possumhaw holly in Grandview TX
July 02, 2009 - What would be likely causes for brown leaves on possumhaw holly? We have 2, one was planted in spring 2008, and a slightly larger one planted late winter/early spring this year. Most of the leaves a...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center