The cherry laurel is said to be robust and evergreen, but when the leaves turn brown, speed is of the essence, because the damage can only be reduced if the cause is found. There can be a number of reasons why the foliage of the bay hedge suddenly turns brown. It is very important that the correct cause is found, otherwise the entire plant may die.

Causes in spring

The possible causes sometimes depend on the time of year. There may be other reasons in spring than in winter!

  • lack of pruning
  • too strong pruning
  • Error in pruning
  • Infections from the pruning

Brown leaves usually appear in combination with low shoot growth in spring. The reason for this is almost always due to errors in the pruning. If it has not been cut back at all, it can happen that the shoots are too branched and there is a lack of nutrients. Too much pruning is rarely a problem, here the cherry laurel is very robust. If there is no uprooting, the hedge can survive a pruning. Errors in pruning, on the other hand, are a common problem and infections are often to blame. If you cut with an unclean blade, sore spots can become infected with fungi. In this case, the cause must be treated.

Brown leaves in winter

  • too cold temperatures
  • Frosterscheinungen
  • Nutritional deficiency

If the leaves turn brown between February and March, the consequences of winter are almost always responsible. Even if the cherry laurel is very robust, freezing temperatures can lead to frostbite. Due to the cold temperatures, it is also possible that the bay leaf does not get enough nutrients.

Tip: Even if the need drops in winter, you should check the condition regularly.

Falling leaves in summer

  • Care errors as the cause
  • Location too shady
  • too much moisture
  • Parasitenbefall

In summer, usually in June and July, the leaves can also turn brown. Fruits that are undesirable for cherry laurel are then another symptom. Here care errors are a common cause, but the wrong location can also be responsible. If the laurel hedge has got almost complete shade, it can lead to problems. When the summer is warm and humid, the hedge is a perfect place to live for parasites and fungi. It is then necessary to check whether pests are responsible for the symptoms. Depending on the cause, a different treatment method is necessary.

Causes of brown foliage in autumn

  • Error in pruning
  • too high humidity
  • Pest infestation

If you have cut the laurel bush in summer, it is possible that brown leaves already show in autumn that the pruning was not carried out properly. In autumn, the humidity rises, especially when the climatic conditions are still summery, but rain still falls. The cherry laurel bush cannot tolerate excessive moisture and reacts by shedding the leaves. The high humidity also provides the ideal breeding ground for pests of all kinds.

Tip: An infestation should definitely be removed before the start of winter. This is how late damage can be prevented.

Damage caused by drought

Laurel cherries are usually very robust and frost-resistant, and the brave plants almost always survive, even at high temperatures below zero. However, winter can cause problems if it’s too dry. The cherry laurel needs sufficient moisture even in winter, otherwise it will dry out and the leaves will not be supplied with sufficient nutrients. If the ground is frozen, it can also happen that the moisture supply via the root system is no longer possible. In this case, it is necessary to manually supply the cherry laurel with water.

Signs when the cherry laurel has dried up:

  • brown foliage in spring
  • Symptoms begin in early February
  • leaves dying to the point of complete baldness

Frost damage to the laurel cherry

Not every type of cherry laurel is extremely insensitive to frost, there are also varieties that have to be protected from freezing temperatures. The perfect protection against the cold consists of a thick layer of straw that protects the root area. Brushwood is also suitable for superficially covering the roots.

Signs of frost damage are:

  • Frost cracks in the woody area and on the branches
  • discolored, falling leaves in February

Treatment of damage

Even if the cherry laurel has visually suffered a lot and is frozen or dried up, you can make it healthy again. The following measures are required for this:

  • Cut back all dried up shoots
  • Cutting time between March and April
  • dry day necessary for the cut
  • Pouring required after the cut

Severe damage needs stronger measures
If the cherry laurel has suffered badly from an extreme winter and is frozen to death, tougher measures must be taken. In this case, almost complete pruning is required and flowering will not take place for a year. In this case, too, the pruning takes place before summer, but after the ice saints. In autumn the hedge recovered to such an extent that it sprouts again and gives a dense overall appearance again.

The radical cutback step by step:

  • cut all twigs that have frozen by 2/3
  • the interface must be three centimeters in healthy tissue
  • trim the entire cherry laurel by at least half
  • pour vigorously, the more dry twigs the more water
  • always prune on sunny days and when it is dry
  • large interfaces must be sealed with wax to prevent parasites

Damage from nutritional problems

Cherry laurels begin their growth phase in spring. During this time, the nutritional requirement is very high. The wrong location, a damaged root system due to the winter or the wrong soil conditions can lead to nutrient deficiencies. An excess of fertilizer can also cause the leaves to turn brown. In this case, the leaf margins change color first, then the entire foliage.

Treating nutrient deficiencies made easy:

  • remove brown, dry leaves and shoots
  • pay attention to a soil pH value between 5 and 7.5 otherwise fertilize with lime
  • loosen the soil regularly
  • use slow release fertilizers or compost
  • renew the substrate, use a nutrient-rich soil

Treating excess nutrients made easy:

  • remove brown, dry leaves and shoots
  • water vigorously for four days to dispose of excess fertilizer
  • alternatively, expose the root and rinse it
  • fill up the substrate with low-lime soil
  • do without fertilizer completely for two months

Summer drought

The moist soil climate is important for the laurel plant. If there is insufficient watering on hot summer days, the leaves turn brown and the shoots dry up. Most of the time, the disaster begins on the petiole and then spreads. Recognized drought can only be treated with immediate and regular administration of water. Do not overdo it, otherwise there is a risk of waterlogging.

The following measures help quickly and effectively:

  • remove all dry areas of the plant
  • water twice a day
Tip: Avoid the midday heat and direct sunlight when watering.

A bath for potted plants

If the cherry laurel grows in the bucket, it can be quickly bounced back on its feet with a bath. It works like this:

  • expose the root
  • cut off dried roots
  • shorten the tips of the roots by up to two centimeters
  • fill the plant hole with water or bathe the root in a bucket of water
  • make sure that there are no more air bubbles
  • remove the excess water from the hole in the ground
  • fill the hole in the ground with nutrient-rich substrate and place the plant in it

Avoid or treat pests

The rose plant is not immune to pests, although it is also considered to be very robust. Mostly it is infected cutting tools that lead to an infection with fungal diseases or the like. Therefore, always make sure to use disinfected scissors for the pruning so as not to transfer fungi that stick to the cherry laurel. In the case of a fungal infection, the leaves not only turn brown, but a point-like structure is created. Sometimes you can see silver shimmering coatings that indicate the fungal attack.

Fungal infection treatment step by step:

  • remove all diseased parts of the plant at the stem heel
  • shorten the entire shrub by a third
  • conduct therapy with a fungicide;
  • spray the plant every 14 days

The infestation with pests

Brown leaves with feeding damage usually indicate an infestation with the black weevil. It is a parasite that explicitly attacks the cherry laurel bush. The traces can be seen on the leaf margin and at the tips. This pest occurs most frequently between the months of April and May, as well as August and September. The damage is not life-threatening, only the larvae deposited by it can disturb the root system.

The treatment of pests at a glance:

  • Use of nematodes (roundworms)
  • Put roundworms in the watering water and pour thoroughly
  • The black weevil dies through the transmission of bacteria

Although prevention is not always possible, nothing is lost when the leaves turn brown. There are ways and means the cherry laurel can be saved. It is always important that the cause is found out.

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