Paperbush doesn't look healthy

Asked April 27, 2018, 4:09 PM EDT

I moved last summer to a home with an established garden. One of the nicest little trees in the yard is a Paperbush..Edgeworthia Chrysantha Hawksridge. Buds came out around December last year and looked healthy until early March. During an extended period of extreme cold, the buds drooped. Now, in late April, most of the buds are turning black and spongy. Do I remove the rotted buds? What else should I do to care for this beautiful little tree?

Prince George's County Maryland

3 Responses

Unfortunately, it looks like the buds were damaged by the cold. We had a warm spell of weather in February and then extreme cold again. Paperbush is marginally hardy in this area and new buds are especially sensitive to extreme temperature fluctuations. You can let the rotted buds drop off naturally, or, you could prune them off right a the base of the flower bud -- it is really up to you.
Paperbush likes to be in moist, well-drained soil that's high in organic matter. Apply a thin layer of mulch (no more than 2-3" deep and 6" away from the base of the plant) to help retain moisture.


Last year after the buds dropped off, this Paperbush grew leaves and looked healthy again. Now it is not looking healthy. Late last fall, the buds came out but there were no blossoms again this year. Now in late April, it looks like it is not trying to produce leaves, and the ends of many of the branches are dry and dead. I mulched and watered...maybe not enough? or maybe too much? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Scratch the branches with your fingernail and look for green tissue. If you see it, the branches are viable. If you see brown, then it is dead and you
can prune back to healthy tissue.

Check the soil moisture and water during dry periods. Make sure mulch is no thicker than several inches and keep away from the base of the trunk. Since this shrub is marginally hardy here, you may want to offer some winter protection when it starts to get cold this December. Place stakes around the plant and wrap with burlap. You can also fill the spaces within the burlap with fallen leaves or straw for extra insulation. Good luck.