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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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Sunday - June 09, 2013

From: Glen Mills, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Poisonous Plants, Shrubs
Title: Damaged leaves on bottlebrush buckeye from Glen Mills PA
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

My recently planted bottlebrush buckeye plants' leaves are looking damaged but it doesn't look like insect or fungus damage. They look battered by wind but I don't understand why that would happen. What could this damage be from?

ANSWER:

To start with the essentials, this USDA Plant Profile Map shows Aesculus parviflora (Bottlebrush buckeye) to be natiive to adjacent Montgomery Co., if not Delaware Co., so we are going to assume there are no soil or climate issues.

Here are the growing conditions of this plant, from our webpage on it:

"Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained, shallow soils over limestone or loamy sands.
Conditions Comments: Though susceptible to leaf scorch, bottlebrush is unique among the buckeyes for retaining its foliage, in good condition, well into fall. It is more tolerant of disease and insects than most buckeyes. Leaves may become quite colorful in fall; seemingly dependent on environmental conditions. Excellent for borders, as a specimen, or under shade trees."

This article from Floridata gives some more information on the plant. Please note especially the warning at the bottom of the page about poisonous parts of this plant.

Our first reaction was to ask if the plant was in full sun, because the Growing Conditions indicate Light Requirements of "part shade" (2 to 6 hours of sun a day) but further research indicated that plants in cooler climates (like Pennsylvania) could do well in full sun (6 hours or more of sun a day). Notice that our webpage mentions "leaf scorch" so we did some research on that.

From the University of Rhode Island, please read this article about leaf scorch. Note particularly these comments from that article:

'Leaf scorch can be caused by many adverse environmental conditions, including soil compaction, transplant shock, nutrient deficiency, drought, salt toxicity and herbicide injury. Leaf scorch is common in the Northeast due to cold soils and slow root growth."

"When using herbicides near trees, do not allow mist to settle onto trees and avoid spraying branches, foliage or trunks with the solution. Apply pesticides only on windless days to avoid problems with drift."

Our opinion is that you have an environmental problem. not an insect problem. We believe the shrub will survive, but should be watched and protected from any of the environmental problems mentioned above.

 

From the Image Gallery


Bottlebrush buckeye
Aesculus parviflora

Bottlebrush buckeye
Aesculus parviflora

Bottlebrush buckeye
Aesculus parviflora

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