Sky Pencil Holly Turning Yellow - help!

Arnold, MD


We just finished planting the front garden area of our new house. We know nothing about gardening, but chose two sky pencil hollies as specimen plants. They've been in the ground for about a week.

We live in Maryland and the soil appears to be very clay. We turned it and amended it with new top soil and Leafgro, planted the hollies, watered, covered everything with mulch, rewatered, and today I notice some bright yellow leaves on one of the plants.

Could I have over-watered them? I thought new plantings should be deeply and frequently watered until the first freeze. I should also mention that the sky pencils are in mostly shade near the house. The nursery owner assured me they'd do fine in part sun/shade.

I'm happy to hear any ideas - since they're so new, I don't think grubs could be a problem. The leaves are mostly beautifully, vibrantly green, except for these bright yellow ones near the bottom of the plants.

Thanks very much!

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

It may just be transplant shock. It is normal for a plant to lose a few leaves when transplanted. It may also be that the plant at the Nursery was in full sun, and you have transplanted it to an area with less light. That can result in some leaf loss as the plant acclimates. Below is some general info for you.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

I would agree with both the comments above as there are many things that can cause problems for new planted gardens, it is like doing some detective work really, it's also more difficult for new gardeners but Hey !!!!, this is the way you learn about your plants.
To start the detective work, scrape away some of your mulch, then remove a little soil and stick your finger into the soil at the root area, if it's wet, your over watering, if it's very dry, you need to add water.

Next check to see IF you have buried the holly too deep, when we plant new tree's / shrubs etc that have wood trunks / stems, you need to make sure you don't bury them lower than they were while in the pot's you brought them home in, so the yellowing could be the plant sitting too low under the soil, never pile the mulch too high up the trunk / stem either, the mulch is to protect the root area and not the trunk.

Next as suggested, try find out the position the plants require, like sunlight, shade, or soil, do they like humus added or are the best on neutral - slightly acidic soil as most holly plants do best in, IF you are new to gardening, buy a VERY cheep soil testing kit and they are a great way for getting to know what type of soil you have and remember, the soil acidity on Neutrality can change from one area of garden to another, the test kit will give you a guide as to what you need to add to the soil to heighten the PH or what will lower it.
If you go to a good garden store where the staff are interested in Plants, they should be willing to help you with the soil test kit and just pay a couple of dollars for kit, NOT a commercial one that is expensive, once you really get into gardening you can always go for more expensive gadgets you REALLY need.

I think the problems are shock when transplanted and this is normal for most plants especially tree's / shrubs as they have been in a pot for a long time and also sat in a more sheltered growing regime like staff looking after them every day as they pass.
Lastly, at planting time when you removed the Holly from the pot's, did you loosen some of the roots that were on the outside edge of the root-ball, this helps the plants when placed into the planting hole to spread out and search for moisture /feed ect, it helps speed up the stability of the plant above ground , I dont mean this all happens in a week or so but, if you dont help settle the plants roots underground, the top, above ground is first to show signs of stress either caused through over water, under water, too much / too little feed, roots just winding around and round as they were having to grow in the pots.

There could be other reasons not covered here but, all I have done is point out the normal mistakes we all make when new to gardening and easy to fix.
After checking these ideas, IF they are not the cause, then you need to search the top area of the plant, the foliage, are there any bugs sucking the sap from foliage, are they planted too close to heating / cooling outlet's, are the getting fumes from car or oil blowing onto them, and lastly, easiest way, has the branches got snapped / Damaged etc. PLEASE don't think the cures will be instant, just as the plants have shown no sign of trouble overnight, the cure is the same, no looking well again till say a month or so.
Good luck and hope soon you get it right, show a picture IF pos as I don't know your Holly by that name.
Well done for taking up gardening you will learn to relax and enjoy it as you go along.

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