Laurel has spots and are these dead?

Asked April 20, 2015, 3:50 PM EDT

Our laurel has brown spots. I have fertilized with 10-10-10 in hopes to give it the needed nutrition. We also have several plants that look as though they may be dead.

Howard County Maryland nandina shrubs cherry laurel winter damage

1 Response

The plants look like they were subject to winter damage. Many broadleaved evergreens like hollies, camellias, cherry laurel were affected. See our website for more information https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/winter-damage-trees-and-shrubs
At this point, the old foliage on the cherry laurel should drop off. Simply rake up. Once new growth starts should be okay.
The holes in the cherry laurel looks like a shot hole fungus. The shot hole symptoms on leaves (in your photo) occur when the centers of the spots fall out. It does cause cosmetic damage but is not very serious. The best management practices for most leaf spotting diseases involve pruning and removal of infected leaves and dead twigs during the winter or dry summer months. Mature shrubs can be thinned for better air circulation. Rake and remove infected fallen leaves in the fall. In the summer, avoid overhead irrigation.
Make sure mulch is no thicker than several inches and keep away from the base of the shrubs. Thick mulch is attractive to boring insects.

Many nandinas were affected by winter damage. It may be too early in some areas to really assess the damage. Either way, it's not too worrisome and these shrubs can and should be regularly renewed by cutting the oldest portions (about a third of them) to the ground each year.
Time will tell. Wait a bit and let them put out new growth if they are going to. Anything obviously dead can be pruned out at any time.
mh