Japanese Sky Pencil Holly

Asked December 1, 2020, 10:22 AM EST

Hi there- I have 2 sky pencils planted in my front yard. They were both planted back in June or July. One of them is doing great but the other we have just noticed has some leaves turning. They aren’t green anymore and more of a light green/gray. We are worried they are dying. Is there anything we can do to prevent this or rectify the branches?

Jefferson County Kentucky

1 Response

Keep in mind woody trees and shrubs can take 2 years to even accept a site and establish well. From the photos and the fact they have only been in the ground for several months, water and transplant shock could be the issue. Too much and not enough water, both have the same symptoms. In both cases the roots die and cannot supply moisture and nutrients to the foliage. Transplants shock also can contribute to the problem. There is more on that in the link below.

The off color foliage may be temporary or may be the start of decline. In most of Jefferson County little watering would have been needed this summer as we have had plenty of rain. On your property the ground may or may not drain sufficiently on one side of the landscape, so it is difficult for me to advise you other than the plant is young and may fill in next spring. I would prune out the affected foliage and wait until next year before replacing the holly.

Transplant shock: https://plantpathology.ca.uky.edu/files/ppfs-or-w-19.pdf


Feel free to contact our office if you have other questions.

Let me know if I can help you further!


Carol Wilder
Horticulture Technician
Jefferson County Cooperative Extension Service
Email: carol.wilder@uky.edu

502-569-2344
4200 Gardiner View Avenue

Louisville KY 40213