Holly bush yellowing and dying back

Asked September 26, 2019, 1:41 PM EDT

Hello, I have a hedge of 5 holly bushes that are about 10 years old. They have been very healthy until now. There is one in the middle that is suddenly yellowing. I have attached pictures of all of the bushes together, as well as pictures of this individual bush. We have a terrible problem with standing water on this side of our property when it rains extremely hard. I’m not sure if this may have something to do with this, but it’s puzzling since all the other bushes seem to be ok right now. The second picture is the struggling bush, and the third picture is a closeup of the healthy one next to it so you can compare the two. Any insight into this would be very helpful. Thank you so much! Claudia

Harford County Maryland

3 Responses

Hi - You might have honed in on the answer already. We saw quite a few plants suffer from last year's excessive rainfall. Saturated soils can lead to root decline. If the soil was staying saturated in the area of the shrub with symptoms, this may have been the issue. Now we're in a period of drought. If roots were compromised, the plant may not be able to take up the resources it needs to thrive.

Also, with shrubs of this size in close proximity, they will compete for nutrition resources. There are also genetic differences in plants of the same type. It is possible that the middle shrub is being outcompeted by the stronger growing shrubs alongside it.

What to do? We think there are couple of options. Be sure to water the plants during this drought period we are in. (See watering tips for drought conditions: https://extension.umd.edu/sites/extension.umd.edu/files/_docs/programs/hgic/HGIC_Pubs/ornamentals/HG... You can prune the holly to see if it will stimulate new growth and fill in over time. Or, take out the shrub that looks unhealthy and allow the healthy ones to gradually fill in the space.


Hi Christa,
OK thanks for the tips! Have a great day!