Mystery plant, camellia and gardenia - what ails them?

mamimo(Sunset 16)June 5, 2011

Hi all,

I'm trying to turn an old neglected yard into a garden, and am baffled by several problems. I'd be so grateful if I can get some advice on any of them. I hope it's ok to lump all my questions into one post -- if it isn't let me know, and I can repost as separate threads.

1. Mystery disease on mystery plant

There is a 30-foot long hedge comprising of 10 of this plant. No one knows it is, but they look diseased and we were advised by a gardener to rejuvenate it by pruning it severely in early spring, which we did, trimming the whole thing from 15 feet to 6 feet. New growth is now showing, but they all have the same diseased leaves again. My questions are:

a. What is it? The new growth is red, older leaves are green and I thought it may be photinia. But the leaves are opposite with smooth margin. Does photinia has opposite leaves?

b. what ails it? I cannot find any bugs. The hedge is in full sun with lots of air circulation and doesn't get any water except what Mother Nature provides. What can or should I do to help it?

2. Camellia

Old sad plant in full sun, about 10 feet tall, with sparse yellow-green foliage. Retaining wall around it collapsed last year and was replaced by a concrete wall. Could it be root damage and/or ph change due to new concrete? I tried giving it liquid iron and fish emulsion monthly, but it isn't responding much.

sorry this is rotated -- I tried to fix it but failed.

3. Gardenia

Yes, I did read the suicidal gardenia thread on GW but was seduced by it nonetheless. The gardenia was newly planted last year and it appeared happy in its part sun spot and almost doubled in size since. But this spring, some of its branches started turning yellow, then brown, and dying out. Many buds, but none of them bloomed. It used to be a nice symmetrical round shape, but now 1/4 of it has died out.

Thanks very much for any advice you can offer!

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Dan Staley

Gardenia is classic California problem. You'll need to give it chelated iron several times a year to correct iron deficiency. Poor camellia is in decline, maybe due to too much work in root zone, hard to say. Harder to say what best to do to fix that mess. First one perhaps some kind of Ligustrum, maybe lucidum if you hold it up to the light and edges glow. I see gall but the rest not ringing a bell at this time...


    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 8:57PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

First 2 images are eugenia, a common hedge.

The bumps are from eugenia psyllid. These are small pests which attack only new growth.

Here's info from Univ of CA

Notice the above mentions sprays are timed to target eggs. Your plant is past that stage. You can trim off affected growth now and then.

Here is a link that might be useful: eugenia psyllid

    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 12:22PM
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Dan Staley

Huh. Eugenia, eh? I guess I should have traveled to SoCal more often!


    Bookmark   June 7, 2011 at 5:49PM
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mamimo(Sunset 16)

Dan -- thanks for the advice on the gardenia. Good to know it's something that I can try to fix. I'll be sure to give it some iron when I tend to the camellia. Yeah, the camellia is in a sorry state but I'm not willing to give up on the old lady yet. I saw some new growth, maybe she'll pull through? Or is this a last gasp? Anyway, I'll continue with the fish emulsion and liquid iron, and keep my fingers crossed.

jean001a -- thanks for identifying the plant and problem. I googled eugenia, it does look like what we've got, apart from some interesting results from google image :) That'll explain why the new leaves look pitted and disfigured, the psyllids must have loved all the new growth stimulated by the severe pruning. And all just in time for their population spike in spring too. Given that it's cooler up in SF bay area, I don't think I can rely on the parasitic wasp population to ramp up enough to control the problem. I'll probably have to spray, yuck.

Again, thanks to all for your help!

    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 11:17PM
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Dan Staley

When I had the landscaping business, everyone wanted a gardenia, and I liked them & had them at my house. I always told my clients that you wanted a liquid and a granular, and the granular goes on before the rains start. And Sacto was the camellia city, and if you can fix that plant, you should publish. Take good notes.


    Bookmark   June 9, 2011 at 11:56PM
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