Holes on Leaves of Skip Laurel. Wind damage in Winter
I've notice their are holes on several bushes of the Skip Laurel. They were planted about 4 years ago. Every winter they get wind damage and the leaves turn brown but recover by end of Spring. I provide plant food. Will that help? Is their a problem with the plant now for it to show holes? Solution?
Howard County Maryland
The holes are probably from cherry shot hole fungus. Cherry laurels are susceptible to many leaf spot diseases. One is commonly called ‘shot hole’ because the infected tissue dries up and falls out causing the tiny holes you describe. Mild, wet spring and early summer weather promotes this leaf spot. Rake up and dispose of infected leaves that fall off the plants. The disease is not serious but causes cosmetic damage. Spraying with a fungicide is not practical as the spraying regiment begins when the new leaves emerge and continues every two weeks or so throughout the summer.
Your skip laurels have so few holes, that we would not recommend taking any action there. There is also some incidental insect feeding along the edge of the leaf. The biggest problem is the wind damage, which stresses your plants every year. This weakens the plants, which do appear thin.
Address the wind damage by insuring that your shrubs are fully hydrated as winter sets in. Evergreens continue to lose water through their leaves in winter, and if they do not have plenty of moisture available to their roots, the leaves "burn", called winter burn or leaf scorch.
So, water in fall if the soil is not good and moist. Also, about 2" of mulch may help retain some moisture. (Be sure mulch does not touch the trunks.) Applying compost around your plant is fine, but fertilization is not the problem.
Here is an article on our website that may give you more insights: http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/winter-damage-landscape-plants