otto luyken cherry laurel

Asked September 21, 2017, 3:23 PM EDT

I bought three new otto luyken cherry laurels that were about three feet high in mid august. I planted them in a row and within 2 days, the middle one had holes through most of the leaves and some of the leaves were completely gone. It looked like only a few of the leaves were affected on the other two plants. I called the nursery where I bought them and they said to put a fungicide on them. We followed the directions and after a month, the middle plant looks worse with even more leaves gone. I have attached three pictures to this email. The plants on the side remain the same with a few damaged leaves. The plants are in part shade with sun in the afternoon. They were planted in a newly built flower bed with new soil placed by the landscaper. The only other thing we placed underneath the plants was black mulch. Please let me know what you think. The nursery has now told us to put an insecticide on the plant or buy new plants. Thank you,

Howard County Maryland

1 Response

The round holes in the leaves are caused by Cherry Shothole disease. It's common on plants in the Prunus family (ornamental cherry trees and cherry laurel).
It starts as black spots/legions on the leaves, and over time the holes fall out.
We don't recommend the use of fungicides to treat it. Fungicides are not curative.

While we see some chewed damage from insects, perhaps crickets, we would not recommend the use of insecticides either. The damage is relatively minor and done. Insecticides would likely kill many non-target beneficial insects that you want in your garden.
The good news is that cherry laurels are tough plants and they are not going to be killed by this. They will quickly flush out a new set of leaves next spring.
Keep them watered for the first 18 months of establishment if we don't get an inch of rain a week. (You can put a tuna can in the garden to monitor).