Sky Pencil branches are drying up

Asked July 29, 2020, 11:40 AM EDT

My Sky Pencil Is 5 years old and has been growing nicely... until this year. The plant is watered regularly, however it appears to be drying up. It’s branches are turning grey and it’s leaves are falling off in my hand. Please help, I’d like to save this plant. Thank you.

Josephine County Oregon

1 Response

There are a couple of conditions that could be causing your holly problem.
Here is what to look for and what to do.

There is a condition that Sky Pencil Holly gets called dieback. It first shows up with a few branches turning brown. If the branches are not removed the dieback will spread to all other branches. Dieback results from a canker somewhere along the stem. The canker blocks the flow of nutrients to the branch. It's best to trim the entire branch off or at least prune it off about 6" below the canker. The canker looks like a knotted up area along the stem.

If you can't find a canker, check for possible root rot, a fungus. If the plant is overwatered or planted too deep root rot can set in. The plant should only be watered when the top 2 inches of soil are dry. Then the water should drain quickly into the soil, and not pool on the ground. Root rot usually takes 2-6 months or longer to kill a plant. The plant usually starts browning at the tips of the leaves. Inspect leaf margins and bases for brown spots, an indication of web blight. These spots spread rapidly into black or brown blotches that cover the entire leaf. Dead leaves usually cling to the plant rather than fall to the ground, and the disease spreads upward from the bottom of the plant to the crown. Treat with a fungicide.

Check to see if there is any new growth at the base of the plant is coming from the roots (ground) or from the brown branches. If from the branches, the limb itself still has some life. You may want to cut them back to the new growth. You could wait and see if any new leaves emerge farther up the limb.