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Holly Bushes

Q.Brown Leaves on Holly Bush

Anonymous added on March 7, 2014 | Answered

My husband has had a holly bush for about 25 years. He moved it twice before we married, but it has been here for 19 1/2 years and has grown quite tall. I have no idea what variety it is. It does not produce any berries or flowers. Last summer I cut off one low branch that had turned brown (all the leaves) and now this past week I have noticed that two other branches have all brown leaves. It is not the spots that I saw in the article I read—the leaves are all brown and dried up.

Any idea what could be the reason and whether or not there is anything we can do? We live in Indianapolis, IN, and our weather has been different this past year (drought in summer, colder winter with more snow/ice and now rain). The holly is not where water stands. Should we cut the branches that are affected, or will the brown leaves fall off and new growth come on? The center of this bush has shot up and is quite tall now—the effected branches are low.

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on March 7, 2014

This sounds like the plant has a bit of scorch. It is a problem that happens during unusually cold, windy weather. It can kill a plant, but because it is weather related, rather than a disease, the only thing you can do is wrap the plants in burlap to help keep the wind off of them. If they make it through the winter (and we are almost through), they will regrow. I would leave them for now. There is a good chance the leaves will regrow. You can prune them later in the spring if they do not start to grow leaves.

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