American Holly leaves brown spots, spreading

Cyrex056March 5, 2012

I recently (December 2011) planted two American Holly bushes on my property. During the past few weeks, I have noticed that the leaves would start to turn brown (usually at the tips) and then spread over the entire leaf. The brown leaves are spreading over the entire plant. I have searched for Holly diseases and really could not find anything. I think maybe it's winter damage, but the winter was very mild this year. Can anyone please tell me what this is, and how to treat it? Please see link to a picture. Thanks.

http://img13.imageshack.us/img13/1514/imag0211p.jpg

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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

Possibly over- or under-watering or the result of applying fertilizer when planting? December generally isn't a good time to transplant holly.
hortster

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 12:46PM
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Cyrex056

It was watered by me initially when first planted. There was no fertilizer applied when planted. Whatever watering they get is from nature.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2012 at 3:24PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

Whatever watering they get is from nature.

===>>> thats not good enough..

insert finger to 2nd digit ... and do NOT let them dry out.. ever...

mulch properly ...

and let them nearly dry.. before you water them again.. trying to avoid drowning them ...

cutting off most of the roots [if dug out] in the middle of winter [the wrong season] .. severely stressed them.. and it should not surprise anyone that there is leaf damage on an evergreen type plant ... i have had such lose every single leaf .... when i messed it up ...

future life is in the buds.. and as long as they remain viable.. you may succeed ... if they ever get squishy or black.. its a lost cause.. otherwise.. you mostly wait to see if they leaf out.. and then you insure PROPER WATERING FOR 2 YEARS .. none of this.. whatever the weather gives them.. if you want to insure success ...

IMHO ... non-holly expertise ... its not a disease issue ...

ken

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 1:00PM
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Kimmsr(4a/5b-MI)

When plants cannot move sufficent amounts of water the leaves, which loose moisture through transpiration to the air, can die off at the tips and that can slowly spread over the leaf as more of it dies. For evergreen plants this moisture loss continues all winter long and is seen very frequently in newly transplanted material because they do not have a root system well established to move enough moisture up the plant.
As Ken suggested check the soil moisture levels and water as needed.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 7:01AM
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Cyrex056

Ken - Thanks for your reply. First off, these were not transplants. They came from a grower and arrived potted. I had read somewhere that it was ok to plant in winter as long as the watering needs were met. Both are planted on the sides of hills. Soil type is clayey silt. The soil around the hollies is amended to provide more drainage (since I also read somewhere that hollies preferred well-drained soil). While it is possible that they could have dried out, where they are planted receive a lot of water when it rains, but they do not drown. So let me guess - Proper watering is moist (not wet) soil, up to second knuckle at all times? Why proper watering for two years? Is that an arbitrary time frame, or is there evidence out there to suggest that this is a good thing to do until they get established?

Unfortunately, I'm more of a carnivorous plant grower. As long as those plants are sitting in water, you're pretty much golden.

Would the browning be the result of too little water, or the clayey soil conditions? Many people in my neighborhood have hollies and everyone has the same soil type. Could you perhaps direct me to some online resources that you would recommend for holly growing/care?

I'll be sure to check the soil moisture level when I get home. Luckily, the buds still appear to be viable. I'd rather not keep my fingers crossed with these. I'd rather meet their needs instead so they can thrive.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 10:24AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

OP said: "First off, these were not transplants. They came from a grower and arrived potted."

Well, look at it this way.

It's true they weren't dug and planted in a new place with fewer roots than they previously had.

But they were transplanted from pots. When that occurs, the caretaker -- you -- must water the original rootball as often as needed until the roots establish a sturdy network beyond the original rootball. For most woodies, that requires 2 or more years.

With your hollies, rainfall has been insufficient because it didn't reach the original rootball that was in the pot.
The reason: The rain was shed by the leaves and ended up in the soil beyond the rootball.

Unfortunately, water doesn't move sideways in soil when a difference of textures exists -- that is, soil and potting mix.

Bottom lines:
1. Leaf edges & tips dried because roots ran short of water.
2. Rx: Drizzle water into the original rootball as needed.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 6:20PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Just to add to Jean's comments....a container grown plant is more challenging to establish into its new surroundings than a field grown plant.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 10:17PM
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Cyrex056

Jean - Thanks for your reply. What you and rhizo are telling me makes sense. I will ensure that the rootball stays moist (not soaked) and see what happens from there. I'll post updates. I just hope they make it!

    Bookmark   March 9, 2012 at 8:10AM
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