One Otto Luken Cherry Laurel dying in group planting

Asked August 28, 2019, 12:27 PM EDT

I have 4 otto luken cherry laurels in front of my house. Last year the 2 on the end suddenly got brown leaves and died. The 2 were replaced and one died during the winter so that was replaced in the spring and was doing fine until a month ago. It now has brown leaves and is dying. Why just the one bush dying when all the rest are fine. Same soil, same sunlight and water. Thank you.

Anne Arundel County Maryland shrubs cherry laurel abiotic issues dying laurels cherry laurel dying

1 Response

It is tricky to say exactly why this has happened, and it may be a combination of factors. There is likely something different in that area.
We don't think insect pests or disease are the issue, but instead what we would call abiotic problems, that is, cultural or environmental.

Laurels will not tolerate 'wet feet'. With all the rain we've had in the last year, the first thing we'd think about is how well that area drains, and/or if it is under a drainspout.
Other common abiotic issues are shown here:
https://www.extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/programs/hgic/HGIC_Pubs/TreesandSh...

New shrubs are particularly needy during the first 18 months of establishment, so they need some regular monitoring for stress.
Problems with drought stress, any run off from salts or fertilizers,being planted or mulched too deeply, and heat stress can all take a toll.
Winter burn on laurels is not uncommon, and the one that was replaced in fall could have added that issue as well. Broadleaved evergreens are better planted in spring so they have the growing season to get some roots established.

It is possible there are other issues, but the above is our best guess.
If you would like to explore our shrub problems page you can do so here:
https://www.extension.umd.edu/hgic/topics/tree-and-shrub-problems


Christine