Mountain laurel looks sick

Asked September 27, 2019, 12:38 PM EDT

I planted two mountain laurels earlier this spring. One is very healthy and doing great but the other looks sick. See attached! The leaves are brown and dropping. I’m also including a picture of the healthy one.

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

Hi - Unfortunately, it looks like your one laurel did not establish well. There are a couple of reasons why this can occur: insufficient watering during establishment, competition from the tree roots for water, and/or poor planting technique. If a plant is root-bound in the original container, the root ball needs to be broken apart and the roots teased out to help the plant get established in the native soil. It can take 12-18 months for shrubs to establish a good root system, and new plantings need regular watering if there is no rain. Poor plant material may also be a factor in the failure to establish.

Unfortunately, this one looks like it is finished. You could prune out the dead branches, keep it watered, and see if you get any new growth. It will likely need to be replaced.