Question of the Week – Number 1: May 7, 2020

FB friend John Seale recognized Entomosporium on his Indian hawthorns and sent me this photo along with permission to use it.

“What are these spots all over my Indian hawthorn and what can I do to save them?”

This is the fungal leaf spot know unaffectionately as Entomosporium. It began its assault on America’s landscapes when it hit redtip photinias 30 or more years ago, and then it moved on to Indian hawthorns. In recent years it has become very much mainstream there.

You can see the resemblance of this fungus when it hits redtip photinia.

Here’s how it develops…
You’ll see this pattern on both types of shrubs:
Harmless-looking maroon freckles begin to appear on a few leaves at first.
Within a few months big parts of afflicted plants look like they have the measles.
The most impacted leaves begin to turn a light green, then yellow and eventually creamy white and then brown and crisp.
Within a year branches die and within a couple of years the entire shrub dies.

This bed is starting to die out one plant at a time. Photo is from several years back. Once most of the plants had died they replaced them. Yikes – with more Indian hawthorns!

Fungicides do not seem to help in preventing or curing this disease, and there do not seem to be any varieties of Indian hawthorns that are completely resistant to it.

There is no point in replacing dead or dying plants with more of their kind. They will almost immediately become infected with it as well.

Photos: Top photo was taken in 2019 and bottom one year later. And they’re still replacing the dying redtips with more redtips. That’s just not a good plan.

Best replacements for Indian hawthorns in terms of plants that look about the same in terms of height, width and texture would be Carissa hollies. They’re suited to sun or shade. They’re evergreen, and they’re well adapted to all parts of Texas. The only slight down side with them is that they don’t bloom, but Indian hawthorns only bloom for a couple of weeks each year anyway.

Continued Below

Best replacements for redtip photinias in terms of tall, screening shrubs would be Nellie R. Stevens hollies (10-14 feet tall) spaced 6-8 feet apart or Willowleaf hollies (also known as Needlepoint hollies. 8-12 feet tall) spaced 6 feet apart.

Posted by Neil Sperry
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