dying mountain laurel

Asked April 2, 2018, 9:57 AM EDT

At the end of the summer the leaves on my mountain laurel began to turn brown at the tip of the leaf. Eventually, the rest of the leaf would turn brown and fall off. This also started happening to my shrubs (hydrangea and tree peonies) next to the mountain laurel. Luckily it got cold before it killed off my other plants. It hasn't gone away and I'm worried it will kill my other plants this spring/summer. What can I do to save my plant? Thanks for your help!!

Baltimore Maryland

1 Response

When you see the same symptom on different shrub species, it points to an environmental/cultural problem, vs. an insect or disease. We do not see any disease or insect signs.

Browning leaf tips suggest root problems, either root loss from over-watering and drowning the roots or lack of water. Since we had a very dry fall, and also winter, it may be lack of water, which dried up and killed the roots. Did the hydrangea show any wilting?

Another possibility could be root damage from an herbicide applied within the root zone of your shrubs. Shrub roots can extend beyond the leaf canopy of the shrub.

Keep your shrubs well watered this summer and send us photos if you see more symptoms. Do not try to prune off the damaged leaves. Let the shrub use them until it decides to drop them.