Explore Plants

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

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

Search Smarty Plants
    
 

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

Monday - May 02, 2011

From: Los Angeles, CA
Region: California
Topic: Trees
Title: Why are my potted Prunus caroliniana plants shedding leaves in LA, CA?
Answered by: Jimmy Mills

QUESTION:

I bought Prunus caroliniana in pots to use as privacy fence on my balcony. Have had them for about 6 weeks and they are shedding a lot of leaves. Some leave are drying out and others have what looks like small insect bitten holes. I water them twice a week. Any tips on how I can stop the leaves from shedding would be much appreciated. Thanks

ANSWER:

We’ve recommended Prunus caroliniana (Cherry laurel) for privacy fences before, but never on a balcony; an interesting concept.
Mr. Smarty Plants thinks you have two problems to deal with; one is some sort of insect that is eating the leaves, and the other is that you are perhaps drowning your plants.

  Follow the link above to the Native Plant Database page and scroll down to:
  Growing Conditions
  Water Use: Medium
  Light Requirement: Sun, Part Shade
  Soil Moisture: Moist
  Cold Tolerant: yes
  Soil Description: Moist, deep, loamy, well-drained soils. Clay Loam, Medium Loam,  Sandy Loam, Sandy
  Conditions Comments: Likes the moist, well-drained soils of its natural range. Prolonged saturation            can cause root rot, particularly in clay soils. Shallow, nutrient-poor, rocky soils can cause chlorosis and   heat stress.
There are two key pieces of information here:”Water Use: medium”, and “well drained soils”. 

Watering twice a week may be just too much water. Try letting the surface of the soil become dry before adding more water to the pots. This link from Naturehills.com has some hints about watering plants.

One approach to getting rid of insects is to use insecticidal soaps. This link from Colorado State University Extension has some information you can use.

To get help with identifying the pest, contact the folks at the LA County Cooperative Extension Office of University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources.

 

More Trees Questions

Disposal of Ashe juniper from Austin
March 07, 2013 - I am in western Travis County and we have been clearing our land of some of the Ashe Juniper. When there is not a burn ban, we burn them because there are just too many to shred. I was wondering if ...
view the full question and answer

Native wild plum trees for Johnson County, Texas
December 24, 2012 - What native wild plums will grow in southern Johnson County? And where can I find the trees locally? Thank you
view the full question and answer

Small flowering tree for Burbank IL
April 14, 2010 - Looking for a semi-dwarf flowering tree resistant to disease and insects. Current flowering crab has fire blight. What would you suggest planting. We live in a Chicago IL suburb.
view the full question and answer

Wound in Monterey Oak from Austin
June 20, 2012 - I have a 10 year old Monterey Oak that has developed a wound that is secreting a white bubbly substance that has attracted all the bugs, like butterfly's , pill bugs, ants, and several others I don'...
view the full question and answer

How fast do trees grow?
September 03, 2008 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants I would like to know how to tell how much a tree will grow if the average of the trees are growing at the rate of approximately 3 to 3.5% annually. And how do they come up wi...
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.