Privet sudden leaf drop
Hi! I live in Los Angeles. I purchased thirty 15-gallon Ligustrum Japonicum 'Texanum' Japanese Privets last fall. I planted a first batch in December 2017, and a second batch in January 2018. The holes were large and they were planted about 2-3 feet apart. The first batch is in full sun and have sprouted fast! The 2nd batch is in partial sun/shade so haven't sprouted quite as much. They get watered once per week with automatic sprinklers, for about 10 minutes. Almost all 30 plants have many new leaves, are green, flowering and generally look happy. HOWEVER, one plant from the 2nd batch dropped all its green leaves within a week of planting and died...I thought it was transplant shock. Now, so many weeks later, another shrub from the 1st batch (in full sun) and a shrub from the 2nd batch (in partial sun) have developed sudden leaf drop within the last 2-3 weeks. It has been mild (70-80 degrees day and 50-55 degrees night). The soil around these shrubs is not dry. The leaves do not show any spotting, yellowing, or curling. I do not see scale or whiteflies. There are no mushrooms or cankers around the base. Literally the green leaves (large older leaves and new tiny leaves) just drop by themselves, and of course when I shake the branches. HELP! Any thoughts?
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
I do suspect fungal infection. The soil needs time to dry out, almost, completely before it gets water again. These are somewhat drought tolerant, and will enjoy a good drying out between watering.
I recommend adding dolomitic lime and wettable sulfur around each. This will help get rid of anything in the soil, and help condition it back to a more fertile condition.
This article will help with the care of privet: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/shrubs/ligustrum/growing-ligustrum-shrubs.htm
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