Question of the Week: April 21, 2016
“Neil, how come my (insert broadleafed evergreen plant name here) is dropping bunches of yellow leaves? What’s going wrong?”
Oh, you’re gonna love this answer. This is not a problem! This is absolutely normal.
Examine your plant, and you’ll see that the leaves that are yellowing, then falling off are old leaves – last year’s leaves. This is the way that they shed their old foliage. They wait until new spring growth is there, ready to take over their duties, then they drop to the ground.
Some years it’s more dramatic than others, and some years it’s later than others. It’s going on across much of Texas right now. Recent storms with high winds have accelerated the pace.
Live oaks are usually first (generally late February in South Texas and into March in North Texas). Ligustrums, Indian hawthorns, gardenias, aucubas, Asian jasmine, purple wintercreeper – they all drop those old leaves.
And then come the southern magnolias. My first calls and written questions say “What’s happening to my magnolia’s leaves?” This is usually in February and March, as the leaves start to look really beaten up. Then it all becomes obvious as those leaves turn yellow and drop to the ground.
Net result: NO CAUSE FOR WORRY. NO CALL TO ACTION! (Other than regular feeding and watering. You’re off the hook on the “watering” side for a little while.)
Apply an all-nitrogen fertilizer in your broadleafed evergreen shrub beds in the next week or so. As for your big magnolia trees, feed them as you fertilize the grass. Just be sure there is no “weed-and-feed” aspect of the fertilizer. Magnolias are terrifically susceptible to herbicide damage.
Coming Next! Question of the Week: April 28, 2016
I’ve received several posts about live oak leaves that are puckered and blistered. That’s oak leaf blister, and it’s running rampant on trees I’ve seen where I’ve traveled. It’s not a big threat, and therefore I’m going to hold it for next week.