Sky pencil in Lakewood Ranch, FL

Asked December 3, 2018, 9:34 AM EST

9 months ago, 3 sky pencils were planted by a landscape company. One recently looked so bad that I replaced it. now two are looking bad, including the newer one...browning leaves and dead leaves surrounding the base. Is the heat here too much for them? Am I watering too much?

Manatee County Florida

1 Response

Hello - there are several questions that need answers before we can offer an accurate solution. We have a plant diagnostic clinic (free University of Florida service) in Palmetto, 1303 17th Street, West, phone 941-722-4524. Could you please bring in samples (half alive and half dead) for us to examine under the microscope? We will be asking planting questions from how they were planted, where is the planting area, how much water did they receive weekly (or daily), what type of water, soil pH etc.

Since they were planted 9 months ago by a landscape company, there may be a planting guarantee. Has anyone talked to the company to see what they think is wrong?

If the trees were planted in a common area in the community, Michelle Atkinson is our agent that works with landscape companies on diseases in the landscape (that is if a disease is the issue). She can be contacted at the same number as our clinic.

If it is planted on a personal property, our urban horticulture team will be addressing the problem. Our clinic is not open on Wednesdays but the other 4 work days, the clinic is open from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Please be prepared to address the botanical name when you come in or have a photo (close up of leaves and further back of the entire tree). Sky pencil comes up as Japanese holly or holly plum, these common names have several botanical names and unfortunately, the cultural needs are different. We will need to know what plant we are addressing to help with the diagnosis. Sky pencil could be Cephalotaxus harringtonia or Ilex crenata; two botanical names and these two are in different families, different needs.

You may call the clinic first if you have additional questions.