What is wrong with my holly tree sapling?

Asked April 23, 2018, 11:09 PM EDT

I found this baby holly tree in my front walkway last fall. I transplanted it into a pot so that we didn't kill it by accident. It has been indoors, and lately underneath a grow light with our garden starters. It seems that our coleus plants seeded themselves into the soil I used for the pot. Over the last couple of weeks, as the coleus leaves grew up and began touching the top leavws of the holly, the holly leaves began browning as pictured. It has since sprouted 2 more on top but overall growth has been slow - only the top 4 leaves have grown in the last 6 months. What can I do to get this tree healthy again? I transplanted the coleus plants to their own pots. Also, are there steps I should take to help it grow faster? I would love to have a new tree big enough to plant in my yard within a year or so. It is currently on my covered front porch. I do have several fungicides (liquicop and 2 others) that I needed to combat peach leaf curl and cedar-hawthorn rust, if this is a fungal infection. I am not sure if the white streaks are not just dried minerals from watering with tap water, or not.

Prince George's County Maryland holly native holly transplant tree holly seedling holly in pot

1 Response

That looks like an American holly, a good tree. (The pot looks very dry--soil should not get dryer than a wrung out sponge for most plants to be happy. )

It would not be normal for this holly to put out new growth in the winter. The fact that it has two new leaves indicates that it is doing well and pulling out spring growth right on time (actually a little early.)

Since this is native, we would recommend that you plant it in its future site as soon as possible. It is not natural for it to be indoors--that will stress it. Keep it well watered during dry spells for at least the first 2 years--including spring and fall.
Fertilize with a liquid fertilizer when you plant it. After that feed with compost every fall.
The dead leaves look old and may be the normal annual shedding that hollies do of old leaves, which occurs in spring.