Possible Root Rot???

Brilliant, AL

Last year I pulled up azalea plants and planted 8 Green Gem Boxwoods to my front yard flower garden in front of the porch. Four days ago, I replaced three of those boxwoods because throughout the year the leaves had turned yellow and then the whole plant seemed to dry out. I live in Alabama where it get really hot during the summer but I water occassionally and use Miracle Grow on them every other week. The boxwoods that I replaced 4 days ago have already started to turn yellow on the top part of the plants leaves. Even the ones that did not need replacing are starting to turn yellow on the leaves. What could be causing this?? Is it root rot? Below the dirt surface our dirt gets to be thick and holds moisture but its about a foot or maybe a foot and a half below the surface. Should I pull these new boxwoods up? If it's root rot what do I get rid of it? Along with the replacement boxwoods I also planted Midnight Wine Weigela plants. Should these be pulled up?

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Hmm..well it could be a lot of things. You should really post pictures of the afflicted plants so we can take a better stab at it.

Without seeing pictures, it could be transplant shock, lack of good watering, or over feeding. It would be great if you better described your watering habits as well. Do you water with the hose on them for a couple minutes every couple weeks or do you let the open hose trickle on them for several hours every couple weeks. Do you give them fertilizer and not have meaningful rain for many days, or does the fertilizer touch the leaves?....many questions, sorry it doesn't seem like a simple answer. Also, why did you replace the azalea?


Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

If there is constant moisture a foot below the planting area I would build up the area for better drainage. Make sure it is higher than the surrounding soil so there is no way the water could be standing around the base of the plant. Also, add plenty of compost (probably fairly coarse material) for better aeration in the soil in this spot.

When you removed the azalea and the dead boxwoods were the roots intact? Did they smell foul? Were they into the standing water?

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Here in UK, I have lost several of my BOX plantings, I grew from cuttings around 10 years ago a nurtured them into Ball shapes as had planned to use them for full stop's along my Box hedges kept only 2 feet tall, however mine began to show yellowing last year only in parts so I put it down to colder winters, lots of heavy rain fall and general drop in daylight.
This year the yellowing has been wider spread, some of the ball shaped plants have gone brown and crisp at the leaf while others are a burnt orange colour ready to turn brown, I'm totally devastated as I babied these along for many years and was ready to plant them ut into their final position this year however not any longer.

On doing research and reading my garden magazine items about hedging the problem is a Physiological disorder of different types of problems, water, feed, lack of light, Humidity or lack of mineral salts, so I guess what that means is researching the soil conditions, the watering regime and feeding, The problems here in UK is that it appears to be a country wide problem which to me, and in my case points to our very rapid change in day light, temp, too much water and cold soil conditions, I have heard from friends way down south in the country who normally have drought conditions with water banning most summers but they also ave the same problems with the BOX plantings.

I have been assured by a profesional gardener that IF I can improve the conditions the plants COULD return to their normal self but it would take several years, IF like some of my plants the whole plant is yellow / brown I think I would burn and start again IF I live that long ha, ha, ha.

There are no bugs, now root eaters present as Ive gone over these plants with a fine tooth comb as they are still in pots, being moved up pot size every second year so it.s easy to check the plants over. I will give a liquid feed, repot into fresh compost soil with added blood, bone and fish you get already mixed in packet, and keep a closer eye out on the ones that are only JUST beginning to turn yellow at the OUTER edges.

Hope this helps you a little and your in a more recoverable situation than I am.

Good luck and best regards. WeeNel.

Brilliant, AL

I will post some pictures later today when I get home from work. I removed the azalea shrubs from the front yard flower garden for no other reason other than I wanted something different. They did not smell bad when I pulled them up and transplanted them to the back yard.

I water all of my shrubs with my 1 gallon watering can every few days in the summer or more often if it gets really dry outside. I use miracle grow on them each week but do not use the whole gallon of water on each plant. Usually I spread the 1 gallon among 3-4 plants. When we put the new plants into the front yard flower garden we used root starter.

If you dig down about a foot or so beneath the surface the dirt starts to feel like rock but its not rocks. You can break it up but it takes a shovel. It's almost like clay. I think it's because it holds so much moisture and gets compacted. This is why i thought it might be root rot although i've read that root rot starts at the base of the plant and my yellow leaves are at the top of the plants.

Thank you all for taking the time to post. Hopefully we can figure this out when I post pictures later this afternoon.

Brilliant, AL

This is a picture of the roots to one of the plants I had to remove because it was almost dead.

Thumbnail by berley_gander
Brilliant, AL

One of the new Green Gem Boxwoods that I planted less than a week ago. The top leaves are turning yellow.

Thumbnail by berley_gander
Brilliant, AL

Green Gem Boxwood getting brittle and brown.

Thumbnail by berley_gander
Opp, AL(Zone 8b)

Hey state-neighbor!

A safe rule to follow is to not fertilize any disturbed plants until you see new growth, especially if rain or deep watering is not diluting it, washing it away. The loss of some leaves is normal when a plant is disturbed.

When digging to install plants, the naturally developed layers, air pockets, drainage are temporarily ruined. So, as you've seen, although the ground may have plenty of moisture under the disturbance, it's evaporating much too quickly in the zone where your new shrubs' roots are.

Adding some mulch (or compost, leaves, clippings from mower bag if you're pretty sure you didn't just mow up a bunch of seeds of anything,) around the area will help it stay moist longer, and for the moisture to stay more evenly distributed, not leaving the top layer so soon.

Watering in small sips too often can cause more damage than aid. When you see the plants are thirsty, meaning the whole root zone is dry not just the surface, much more than one gallon is needed. You would want a slow sprinkle or dribble of water to saturate the area around the roots, down to their deepest depth. Watering just enough to moisten the root ball will result in a exacerbating the "ball" shape of the roots in a small, shallow area, doesn't help to establish a plant that, by next year, should never need supplemental water.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

All shrubs, tree's and plants like Perennials require a good rich humus soil and to achieve this I would add as much manure (well rotted) to the soil by adding it in layers of say 4-6 inches deep on the top soil and then digging this into the soil as you go along preparing the soil as you would anyway, Most stables who have horses are only too glad to get rid of there horse droppings as they clear out the stables and normally have a large pile of this gardeners gold ALL year round.
It is ready for garden use is when it has been left to rot down best part of a year, has no smell, when picked up, it crumbles between fingers and thumb, I know of no stables who charge when you remove this humus. you can fill plastic garbage sacks to help transport it home if you don't have a truck type vehicle or trailer
By adding this humus or good quality compost, you are helping feed the roots, helping hold moisture into the soil long enough to let the roots take in a decent quantity of water they need, AND it helps break up the soil into a decent easier to handle and dig type of soil.

My Box plants that have suffered were not in the garden soil but nurtured along in pots so they have probably suffered the same poor conditions over winter and summer as your plants have even though I was so sure they were well cared for and about ready to go into the garden when soil preparation would have been as given above but they have succumbed to this BOX wilt like yours. I will have to buy the Box Balls to complete the plan I have in mind BUT I was told that if the conditions are improved, then over several years the plants will improve hope this is the case for you.
Good luck. WeeNel.

Brilliant, AL

Thank you all for taking the time to reply to my post. I am going to try a few things that were suggested and hope that it helps. :-)

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Your very welcome berley, the site is here for everyone, even experienced gardeners who need to ask Questions, make suggestions re garden / plants/ soil or whatever to do with such, we sometimes forget that one Question / Answer can be the the help many others have been wishing to know, so never be afraid to just keep asking or answering, the great thing is no-one thinks our questions are silly, IF no one is able to help on this forum, normally someone will know where to direct you for better info so relax and just enjoy.
Good luck and kindest Regards.

Rolesville, NC(Zone 7b)

I'd like to add that Miracle Gro can be a death sentence in our soil/climate. At the nursery where I work I see more plants burned by MG than helped. Very few plants need that much nitrogen at once.

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