Drooping Leather Leaf Viburnum

Asked April 26, 2019, 9:41 AM EDT

I have three leather leaf viburnums in my yard -- located with 30 feet of each other. Two of them are absolutely thriving and healthy. The middle one lost several major branches over the winter, the leaves are drooping and some are turning yellow. I have inspected the leaves (and taken them to several nurseries) and no one can see any signs of fungus or growths on them. The branches are fine -- no cankers. I also peeled back the bark to check for signs of Armillaria root rot but do not see any signs of a white fungs. While my other viburnums started to bloom profusely almost a month ago, ten days ago the sick tree had tight, brownish buds (see photos). Today I noticed that the buds (which I had thought were dead) are starting to open up. When I break the twigs, they are green. Attached are thrree pictures -- one of my healthy shrub, one of the sick one taken ten days ago and one of the sick one from today. Please advise me as to what I can do to save this lovely plant.

Montgomery County Maryland

5 Responses

We do not see disease or insect evidence. That means the problem is environmental/abiotic.

It's likely that the site of the struggling viburnum is somehow different than the others. Many shrubs and trees have died or were damaged by the wet soils and sitting water from last year's rains which drowned or rotted roots.

Check the drainage of your shrub. Consider the slope or grade. Be certain that mulch is not too deep (no more than about 3") and should never touch the base of the shrub or tree. Keep it back a few inches.

Be sure the grade has not changed or erosion has not raised the soil level around the trunk, smothering it. The flare of the trunk as it enters the soil should be visible.

Look through the following abiotic issues that can subtly affect plants and damage them: http://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/programs/hgic/HGIC_Pubs/Landscape/HG201...


Do you think that fertilizing the shrub might help? And, if so, what type of fertilizer or nutrient should I add? Many thanks, Christa Dub

Mature plants do not need fertilizer, virtually ever. If the problem is soggy soil, fertilizer isn't going to help.

If you want to add nutrients, apply an organic compost around the base of the plant--but not ON the shrubs. You can do that yearly.


Thank you so very much. This is a great service. Regards, Christa Dub