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Thursday - July 02, 2009

From: Grandview, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Planting, Pruning, Transplants, Shrubs
Title: Brown leaves on possumhaw holly in Grandview TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford


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 are green, but both have a pretty good amount of brown leaves also, and have lost some brown ones.


Our research indicates Ilex decidua (possumhaw) does not have any significant pests or diseases. It is native to Texas, and likes our alkaline soils. According to the USDA Plant Profile on the plant, it is growing wild in Johnson County, so it is not trying to survive out of its territory. And if no one has been spraying broad-leaf weedkillers close to it, that lets that out. We suspect that since both plants are showing some browning, it is an expression of their displeasure at being transplanted in a really hot, dry year. 

We are going to suggest our prescription for transplant shock. First, determine if the shrubs are getting good drainage. If you have clay soil, you need to work some humus, like compost, into the soil around the roots, without disturbing the roots any more than is necessary. Then, to protect the roots from the heat and hold moisture in the soil, mulch with a good quality shredded hardwood mulch. Now, trim off 1/4 to 1/3 of the top of the plant, to reduce the leaves and branches the stressed roots need to be getting water to. Finally, 2 or 3 times a week, stick a hose down in the soil, and let it dribble very slowly for a while, to be sure the roots are getting the moisture they need. Individual brown leaves are not too worrisome, but if whole branches start to brown and die, there could have been some damage done to the roots in transplanting. Only time will tell if your tender loving care has rescued this excellent Fall color plant.

Ilex decidua

Ilex decidua

Ilex decidua

Ilex decidua




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