Flannel Bush Dying

zephyrayOctober 8, 2012

Hello Garden Web. I wanted to see if anyone might have an idea as to why some flannel bushes are dying. In a spot on the edge of a small hill there were ten flannel bushes planted. They maintained for awhile then all of a sudden six of them began to die. All the leaves turned brown then fell off. The wood underneath became woody. One by one they were taken out. We assumed that we were watering them too much and turned it off.

Four remained alive and then grew quickly. Suddenly the one by itself at the end (of the original ten the ones remaining were grouped, one by itself at one end, and three together at the other) suddenly began to die like the six the previous year. Like them it went fairly quickly, in about a month's time. As you can see from the picture the joints of the trunk at the base have deep splits.

There are three left that do not have the splitting at the joints (yet) that the last one had. Does anyone know what might be causing it?

A side note. Below the flannel bushes at the bottom of the rise are planted some olive trees. They have been there about maybe a year and a half. They were planted when they were a pretty good size already, maybe 10 feet tall. I noticed some months ago that some of them also had some splitting (and peeling back of bark) but it was not at the joints, it was on the surface of the trunk. I don't know if these issues are related. The olives were struggling but after talking to some olive growers and making sure they had adequate water they now seem to be doing well. I tested the PH at the olives with a small gage which showed a slight inclination toward alkaline; good for olives,

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Not an easy plant to grow! Needs poorish or coarse, well-draining soil, full sun, no summer irrigation and minimal pruning. Any radical departure from this program can result in plant failure. And a rather short-lived plant under the best of circumstances.

The most common problems are a canker that develops from excessive moisture (possibly what's happened in your instance) and irregular hardiness. This is a plant where the Sunset zones are far more applicable than USDA zones as while it will tolerate some cold winter temps, it absolutely must have high summer temps to do so (to ripen woody growth). For example, not a plant that thrives in my very mild zone 8b climate - not nearly hot enough in summer although sufficiently warm enough in winter.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2012 at 3:23PM
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Thanks gardengal48. Yes it's a good assumption that the reason for the first six flannels dying was over watering. But after that the water was turned off and the rest thrived and grew, so it's more of a mystery what happened to the seventh. Also oddly the one that just died was first on the line to be watered. You'd think that it would have succumbed with the others.

Anyway I speculating that cause of death may be that the deep fissures through the outer and cambian layers were mechanically preventing water from reaching the upper branches, though with the water turned off it couldn't have been much.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 12:23AM
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