Sudden Death? to Pittosporum 'Silver Sheen'

landscapeman67August 31, 2008

I have (or should say 'had') a beautiful pittosporum'silver sheen' and recently up'd the watering schedule to 8-10 minutes, three times a week during the hot months of summer (it was at 6 min, three times a week and was thriving for 4-5 months). That's when I noticed the leaves getting brown, soft and curly (some leaves are actully crunchy). What went wrong and how much water is needed for this plant for the Carlsbad, CA (San Diego) area?

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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

When did you plant it?

If this year, likely the original rootball is dry.

And by what method are you watering? I ask because 8-10 minutes isn't very long. To determine if that's long enough or not, stick a trowel into the soil How deep is it moist? Also how wide?

Beyond that, where are you watering? If it was recently planted, the water needs to applied to the top of the *original" rootball.

If it's been in the ground for a number of years, you should be watering deeply once a month or so, and all they way out to the dripline.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2008 at 12:53AM
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I had a similar experience with a 5-year old 'silver sheen' in December 2007. Last week, a second tree (planted at the same time) started exhibiting similar symptoms. The puzzling thing is that the tree literally dies within days. Is the watering schedule the problem? I live by the coast in Long Beach, CA and water 3 times a week for 3 to 5 minutes. I recently changed the watering schdule to 2 days per week for 5 to 10 minutes. I have one healthy tree left - please help!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 9:09PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

"3 times a week for 3 to 5 minutes" isn't enough, neither is "2 days per week for 5 to 10 minutes."

To know how much, and how often to water, one must check the moisture content of the soil now and then.

First time is an hour or so after you water .. How wide And how deep did the water go? Then daily until you know how long that water will last.

Now, you have a tentative schedule which will, of courser, need to be modified according to the weather.

Beyond that, what method are you watering for "2 days per week for 5 to 10 minutes?"

If via a drip system, you can figure the output.

For instance, if the dripper -- how many do you have for the tree? -- puts out 1 gallon per hour, then 10 minutes is only 1/6 of one gallon. Precious little when it comes to keeping a tree healthy.

If output is 1/2 gallon per hour, then 1/12 gallon per dripper.

Poor tree is thirsty. Indeed, very thirsty. And the result is scorched and/or browned leaves, often a dead tree.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2008 at 10:38PM
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Thanks Jean! I deep watered my two remaining trees for one hour. Do you think they can be saved or is it too late?

    Bookmark   October 13, 2008 at 5:33PM
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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Only time will tell.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2008 at 12:09AM
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Landscapes are watered by the inch, the same way we measure rain fall. In S. CA we lose 1 inch per week in srping and fall and 2 inches per week in summer in the hot inland vally. This is called the evapotransproation rate. Plants need a precentage of that back depending on how drought tolerant they are, this is called the crop coeefecient. Pittosporum are farily drought tolerant, they need about 50% of the evapotransporation. Shrubs and trees should be deep watered and then allowed to dry out for 1 to 4 weeks. Established Pittosporum can be watered once a month in the spring and fall and twice a month in the summer. Most likely these Pittosporum died from Phytophthora root rot as they were watered too frequently. For root rot control apply a 1/4 inch layer of gypsum around the base of the shrub or tree and then 3-4 inches of mulch. This should be done twice a year, sring and fall. You can also treat with Aliette which controls Phytophthora and some other diseases. But first start watering correctly

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 5:35PM
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I planted 3 healthy Silver Sheen about two or three months ago. All has been well until this week when I noticed the middle tree is dropping green leaves from the top of the plant about a 1/4 down from the top. There are no brown, crunchy or yellow leaves. These trees are about 8- 9 feet tall and planted about 3 feet apart. Can anyone tell me what I should do to prevent this from becoming terminal?

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 1:26PM
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We are having a similar problems with our 5 year old Pittorums they in a hedge and one has died which we pulled out and instanlly the one next to it started dying?? We have had a lot of rain over winter and have also been told that there is Phytophthora in a nearby creek? Why would the next start dying only when the other has been pulled out? I am reluctant to pull out the second dead tree in case we loose all the hedge??? Help

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 6:10PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Phytophthora is a soil borne disease, not water borne. It spreads in wet soils...and your description of lots of rain is a telling one. This disease and others like it can spread from plant to plant via underground root grafts and shared rhizosphere. Removal of a dead plant does not mean that the disease is gone.

Having gone through a couple of devasting kills involving Pittosporum, I can't help but feel more than a little anxious for you. I stopped using this plant entirely because of its susceptibility to disease.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 1:01PM
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Should just clarify that Phytophthora is considered a water mold and one of the methods of infestation is via water - either from splashing of the spores from the ground or infected plants or as run-off from an infested field into surface irrigation sources like ponds, streams, and rivers and then into groundwater and travelling into other growing/planting areas. In fact, that is one of the primary ways SOD (sudden oak death - Phytophthora ramorum) has spread so extensively.

IME, excessive watering/overly wet soils and/or poor drainage are the primary culprits in the average garden. Never lost a pitt to a root rot yet but I certainly have to cold :-)

    Bookmark   October 17, 2012 at 2:43PM
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