Laurel Hedge Problems & How to Fix Them
The beautiful leaves of laurel make it ideal for hedging, and a very popular choice, at that (but you likely know that). The combination of quick growth rate, shiny look, and dense foliage makes it the perfect choice – assuming you take care of it. If you’re having laurel hedge problems, you’ve come to the right place – DreamyHome has your back!
The most common laurel hedge problems are powdery mildew, leaf spot fungi, bacterial shothole, and frost damage.
Sure, I can say those words and assume you know what they mean, but who really knows that off the top of their head? Let’s break it down a bit more, shall we?
Planting a Laurel Hedge
Let’s start with the basics and move on to specific questions after. Ensuring your hedge is planted properly will make these issues less likely to appear, though they still might.
Laurel hedges can be planted at pretty much any time of year, depending on the variety you have. The variety will affect the timing, so check out the following:
- Pot or cell grown laurels can be planted just about whenever you want.
- Bare root or ball root laurels should be planted between November or March, so you still have a wide timeline to work with.
As a side note, ensure your soil isn’t still frozen or frosted. This will make it nearly impossible for the laurel roots to take hold.
Sunlight isn’t too important here, nor is soil moisture – though it’s better to keep the soil at least slightly hydrated. In short, laurel hedges are super sturdy and resilient plants, meaning that you can afford a bit of guesswork here.
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Top 3 Laurel Hedge Problems
Let’s get into the real meat of things – issues with properly planted laurel hedges. These plants are, generally, not subject to any major diseases. Any problems that do take hold could even resolve themselves as the hedge grows. Nonetheless, let’s take a look at the three most common issues to arise with laurel hedges.
Each of these diseases generally occurs between spring and autumn in damp, humid environments. Cherry laurel is more susceptible to these particular issues, though any variety can experience them. Generally, all of these diseases will present with holes and distortions in the shrubbery, with tattered leaves on the edges.
#1 Powdery Mildew
Let’s start with symptoms, shall we? Look for the following:
- White, powdery coating on leaves
- Brown or dead undersides of leaves
- Jagged or tattered edges on your leaves, alongside holes in the foliage due to dying bits falling off.
You can generally treat powdery mildew with organic or synthetic compounds. If you’re using synthetic chemicals, be sure to read up on them before applying. There’s no sense in accidentally killing your hedge because you couldn’t be bothered to read a label.
There are two solutions I recommend to treat powdery mildew:
- A mixture of 9:1 water to milk can be sprayed on the plant in the morning, especially on hot or dry days. Do not apply this at night. Follow up the treatment in two weeks, once. Overtreatment can attract other pests and diseases.
- Mix roughly 12 grams of baking soda with ~4.5 litres of water. Spray on the plant in between treatments of the above method – they work best together.
- This treatment is very bad for roses, though other plants are usually fine with it. Be careful where you spray.
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#2 Leaf Spot Fungi and Bacterial Shothole
Leaf spot fungi and bacterial shothole appear as very similar afflictions on the surface. They will both show:
- Brown spots on leaves, with the centre fallen out. There will likely be irregular holes in the leaves, similar in appearance to pests chewing holes in the leaves.
- Lesions with a yellowed “halo” on leaves will eventually fall, resulting in obvious holes in shrubbery.
The best way to treat this is with fungicide and pruning.
The former will treat infection, and the latter will control spread to other parts of the hedge, or worse, other plants. Be sure to rake up fallen leaves as soon as possible and avoid overwatering. Wet conditions are the ideal environment for fungus to grow – don’t help the fungus come back.
If you’re looking for an organic alternative to synthetic fungicide, you can first try mixing 2.5 mL baking soda with 4 litres of water and misting occasionally. Again, don’t over-treat – you’re adding moisture, after all.
#3 Frost Damage
This is rather self-explanatory, but we’ll break it down nonetheless. This can happen at different times of the year, depending on your location, so pay attention to the weather when planting. Look for:
- Black and shrivelled growth in the autumn
- Brown patches in the winter
- Withered, black shoots in the spring
Depending on when you plant your hedge, you’ll see these issues more often. It’s best to plant in the summer and give your hedge time to grow healthily before frosts show up. To treat frost damage, you really need to do only one thing – prune. Trimming back damaged growth will prevent the damage from spreading and keep the hedge from sending nutrients to dead bits of the plant.
Just like with all plants, laurel hedges need attention. Luckily, they’re not that needy and generally don’t suffer from severely debilitating diseases – though some that are less serious will still appear occasionally. This will be more likely if you have a cherry laurel, though no matter your variety, you’re still more than able to treat them – powdery mildew, leaf spot fungus, and bacterial shothole should not be death sentences for your hedge.
Generally, pruning will solve the problem. In case you’re in the market for a new hedge trimmer, take a look at our guide to the best cordless hedge trimmers on the market today! And above all – don’t fret if you notice some damage. Try the above treatments, prune back dying leaves, and rake up those that have fallen. You’ll see the hedge return to its healthy, normal self, and prevent any fungus or mildew from spreading.