Q.My 6 year old black elderberry leafed out this year, then leaves wilted
My black elderberry is 6 years old. Has been thriving even though deer nibble on it. It has leafed out and flowered every year. This year it leafed out and then every branch of leaves wilted. One branch is left with reasonable leaves and weak flowers. I did cut off one dead branch at the bottom in March. What happened?? If it may be a root borer, should I dig the whole shrub up and throw it away? Help. Thanks.
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Several things could be going on, from environmental to pests to fungus.
This year has been very odd weather wise. If you have been experiencing the cold and warm snaps that much of the Midwest has, then the tree may have grown its new leaves too early and the new growth is far more susceptible to cold damage. When the cold returned, it would have killed all the new growth and leaves.
It could also be a fungus or disease such as tip blight or some other fungus.
There may also be a pest infestation from thrips or aphids. A particularly heavy infestation could cause this damage.
If it is cold damage, the tree should recover on its own. You should see new budding growth by now.
Just in case, treat the tree with a systemic pesticide and fungicide, such as neem oil. This will treat any pest or fungus issues the tree has, including if it does have root borers.