What Is It???

Asked July 6, 2019, 11:03 AM EDT

Purchased house last fall, in first year of summer growth and trying to determine what is what. This one has me baffled, see images. It's about 8ft long and 4ft tall; but has not been doing well as you can see: limited leaf growth. I've watered moderately about every two weeks (given how much rain we have had, and have fertilized with Gerten's tree and shrub fertilizer and Miracle Grow. Getting leaf growth on southern exposure. Not sure if this is just a late bloomer or if I'm not doing something correctly. I've been told not to trim it so I haven't. Then again, I don't even know what it is!!! Anything you can offer as to what it is and where I can find info on care. Thanks, Richard Lakeville, MN

Dakota County Minnesota

3 Responses

Are you able to send a more detailed photo of the leaves? I'm having trouble seeing much detail. I have a couple of ideas based on overall shape but I'd like more information to confirm. Additional details that can be helpful. - have you observed any flowers or berries on the plants in the time you've lived in the home? And if yes, what did they look like?

Attached is a photo of the leaves.
As for blooms or fruit, nothing yet (which in addition to the sparse growth) concerns me.

It looks like this is a type of ninebark. There may be a couple of things going on with it. It could have witches broom, which is a growth pattern of branches making the appearance of a witches broom. This can have many causes, but could be due to powdery mildew, a common problem affecting ninebarks. http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advice-tips-resources/pests-and-problems/diseases/witches-broom.aspx See websites below for more information on ninebarks. https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=phop http://apps.extension.umn.edu/garden/diagnose/plant/deciduous/ninebark/ The coloration of the leaf, where the vein stands out as darker against the rest of the leaf can be an indication of chlorosis for some plants. https://extension.illinois.edu/focus/index.cfm?problem=chlorosis However, in the case of a ninebark, this could also be related to the type of plant it is and the natural color. If it is a Festivus Ninebark, this plant grows with bright yellow/green foliage in full sun, but can turn a darker green when more in shade, which may be what you are seeing there. Some photos of this variety can be found at the next webpage. https://garden.org/plants/photo/476737/ If it is chlorosis, this can be caused by different things. It would be beneficial to get a soil test to see if there are any concerns there. The link below will tell you more about a soil test and how to send a sample. http://soiltest.cfans.umn.edu The recommendation you say you received about not pruning was probably more related to maintaining the overall shape of the plant and leaving the natural draping of branches rather than shortening them). However, the dead material should be cut out now. One of our other volunteers has success with periodically( every 6-8 years) cutting the whole ninebark to the base and letting it grow from there, so this may work for you in this situation. It is called rejuvenation pruning and is best when used in later winter, early spring. See link below. https://www.mortonarb.org/trees-plants/tree-and-plant-advice/horticulture-care/pruning-deciduous-shrubs