dying shrubs

Asked June 6, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT

Something is killing all the shrubs in my yard. It started with mature verbenas, then lilacs not my Chinese hollies. Bush appears health and then dies from top down Leaves are green and healthy and then turn brown and shrivel up. My one remaining lilac produced leaves/budding blooms this spring then turned brown and died. I have tried every chemical to no avail. All shrubs are about 10 years old and have performed beautifully until last year. Also brown spots on underside of hydrangea and st john's wort..this is also killing leaves.

Bucks County Pennsylvania trees and shrubs horticulture

4 Responses

It's unlikely that there is a single cause of all the problems you described. This past winter was especially brutal for your area. Butterfly bushes and some varieties of hydrangea (primarily big leaf) have been adversely affected. It could be nematodes or a blight that is spreading in your garden. Because of the extent of your problems my recommendation would be to take a sample of each problem shrub to your local extension office in Bucks County. The extension office will be able to examine each sample to determine if there is a common cause. If that is not possible due to time and/or travel constraints then consider the following: Lilac - It may be bacterial blight, a common and widespread disease of lilacs, begins as brown spots on the leaves and stems of the bush. The spots eventually enlarge, causing the leaves to become malformed, die and drop off. The spots then move to the stems, which are eventually girdled by the bacteria. Shoots and blossoms die as a result of the stem infection. Clean up debris around lilacs to prevent the spores from entering the shrub through pruning cuts. Prevent bacterial blight by proper fertilizing and watering of lilacs. Water at soil level to keep leaves dry. Prune lilacs yearly to allow air and light into the center of the plant, which will decrease the likelihood of an infection. Verbena - please see the following link that describes various diseases of verbena consistent with your description. http://extension.psu.edu/pests/plant-diseases/all-fact-sheets/verbena-diseases Chinese holly - please see the following article on holly diseases. Root rot is consistent with your description. http://extension.psu.edu/pests/plant-diseases/all-fact-sheets/holly-diseases Hydrangea - please see following link and reference to leaf spot disease http://extension.psu.edu/pests/plant-diseases/all-fact-sheets/hydrangea-diseases Also, feel free to respond with additional information specific to each plant problem. Pictures can also be helpful along with information about location - sunny, shady, damp, etc. We hope this will be of some help in resolving your issues.

Thanks..I believe one of my issues (hydrangea and st johns wort) is lightening bugs...since the plants are loaded with them...using a systemic insecticide/fungicide on the others... praying for healing...thanks..

by the way, where is the extention office near me?

Newtown, Bucks Co.

Bucks County Extension office: 1282 Almshouse Road Neshaminy Manor Center Doylestown, PA 18901-2896 Phone: 215-345-3283 Fax: 215-343-1653 BucksExt@psu.edu Office Hours Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.