Why is my holly dying?

Asked April 16, 2019, 4:03 PM EDT

We have a bank of large hollies in our backyard that provide a privacy screen. All were healthy last year. Over the winter, a disease spread through one of the hollies. All the leaves are yellow or very light green or gray, and they snap when folded. Many of the branches snap as well when put to the test. The entire bush is affected, and we assume it will have to be removed. The other hollies look generally OK, though in one I now see a bunch or two of yellowed leaves, and so I worry that the disease is spreading. This is also in the location of a gigantic oak tree that died back over the last several years, and was finally removed last summer due to the hazard it posed. Can you explain what's happening and what we can do to save our remaining hollies? We have four very large hollies, each about two or three stories tall, and they are very important to us. I've attached an overall photo of the diseased holly, a closeup of diseased leaves, and a closeup of a healthy holly nearby. Thanks you -- Jonathan B., Baltimore, Md.

Baltimore Maryland

1 Response

Many trees and shrubs are succumbing to the record amount of rainfall we experienced last year. Too much rain can cause similar root problems as too little moisture.
This holly may be sitting in a lower area of your yard. Hollies can take moist soil but anything beyond that could potentially cause problems. Your photos do not show any indication that the holly has a disease or insect problem.

This is not related to the death of your oak tree. Oaks, in general, have been struggling over the past few years in Maryland most likely due to the change in our climate. When the trees become stressed they are more susceptible to insect pests like borers.