sad looking bushes

Asked October 15, 2016, 4:30 PM EDT

Hi, We live in West Columbia, MD. We planted 6 bushes in June and now 2 of them are looking pretty sad. We have been told that we could have possibly watered them too much. There were periods during the summer where I didn't water them but that was during the flooding events of Ellicott City. Of the 6 we planted the bushes that are not doing well are a little more shaded. What can we do if anything for these bushes before the snow flies. Thanks in advance.

Howard County Maryland

1 Response

The shrubs in the photos look like cherry laurels. In general, cherry laurels grow best in a well drained soil in morning sun and afternoon shade. The shrubs are struggling to get established. Here are some things to look for.

They will need to be watered deeply about once a week up until the ground freezes. You may have to move the mulch and probe with a screwdriver. Keep the soil evenly moist.

If the shrubs were container plants, it is possible they may have been root bound in the pot. If planted this way, the root system will not be able to hold moisture and will not establish. If the roots are encircled within the container they need special treatment to loosen the roots when planted. See our website for the planting process of container grown plants. Tug on the shrub and see if the plants come up easily. If so, you may be able to pull up the plants and prune the root ball, replant, and keep well watered.

Also, the shrubs will not be happy in a poorly drained soil and susceptible to root rots. Check the drainage in the area.
Make sure the shrubs are not planted too deeply as they can be susceptible to boring insects. These insects are also attracted to thick mulch. Keep mulch no thicker than two inches and away from the base of the stems.