Burford Holly Problem

Asked April 19, 2019, 11:42 AM EDT

I planted 15 relatively small Burford Holly about 4 years ago and they have been growing well since then. However, just before the actual beginning of Spring this year they lost just about all their leaves. The leaves that are remaining look pretty dried up and I see absolutely no new leaves. I visited Behnke Nurseries and was referred to you with the questions: 1) Why/how did this happen and 2) What can I do if anything to "bring them back" to life and continuing growth. This type is supposed to grow to 10-12 feet! Some of them had already reached about 4 feet. Thank you for considering.

District of Columbia County District of Columbia holly burford holly abiotic issues shrub

1 Response

It sounds like your hollies are dead. Their leaves tend to retain color for a long time after they die. The dried up look and the lack of new growth suggest they died some time ago.

It's surprising that they have all died. We suspect that the unusual weather conditions (twice as much rain as normal) associated with climate change is the culprit. Many homeowners, especially with clayish soils, had soil that remained soggy and saturated for weeks, killing plants that normally were happy. Many plants cannot tolerate standing water or saturated soil for long periods. It suffocates the plants (drown) or they get root rots. We have been flooded (forgive the pun) with questions about this problem.

Check the drainage there, before you replant. (Fill a hole with water. See how long it takes to drain.) If it takes 24 hours to drain, be sure to choose plants that can tolerate "wet feet."

You are always welcome to send us photos if you think that would add anything to our diagnosis.

Ellen