Laurel Hedge leaf problem

Here are a couple of pictures of a leaf from my massive laurel hedge. I
‘think’ this is cold damage, but am wondering if anyone can confirm that? If it’s not cold damage, then what could it be?

This plant is hardy to Zone 6 so it should not have reacted to cold unless you had a number of days below the minimum of -10 °C. However, coupled with a cold north wind, may have produced this browning. Is the leaf damage all over the hedge or on just one or two sides or just a few leaves? Brown leaves on one exposed side to north wind and abnormal cold temps may be your clues.

Another possibility is inadequate watering through the summer drought. This type of hedge benefits from a minimum of a 30 minute soaking every 7 to 10 days when there is no rain in the forecast.

There are some leaf diseases that affect prunus spp. The most common one is bacterial leaf blight which is also commonly called shot hole and this may be what is affecting your hedge. This is harder to treat but one line of defense is not to do any overhead watering near your hedge and clean up all damaged leaves on hedge and those that are on the ground. Don’t put them in your compost.

In both cases, boosting the nutrients in the soil, regular watering by soaker hose and adding a mulch may be helpful. Hope this helps and good luck!!


Thanks for your reply, @duchessofdirt Leslie!

I’m not sure if we had that many days below -10C here in Black Creek, but we did have huge amounts of snow weighing down the branches of the hedge. This hedge is well established being there for about 30 years now, but is too far away from the house and watering hose, and really way too big for us to water. So perhaps the drought and the cold have affected it. These damaged leaves do seem to be primarily on one side of the hedge that’s a bit more exposed than the other. I will try to give it some fertilizer this coming year as we’ve never done that for it.

Here’s hoping that it is cold damage and not the leaf blight as I would surely hate to lose this huge hedge.

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It will be interesting (and scary) to see what damage has been done to our landscapes following the drought of last year. This is an excerpt from a newsletter from “The Garden Professors” (note: the author lives in Tacoma)

Fast forward to summer – for us, a record-breaking drought (again). Our temperatures weren’t as high as last year, but we still had very hot weather and no rain. For our landscape it’s not a problem, as we have well water for irrigation. But those gardeners who have little or no supplemental irrigation may very well find that their woody plants and perennials don’t perform very well next year: perhaps fewer flowers or branch dieback will appear. This is due to root dieback that happened all summer in unirrigated conditions. The damage is only seen in the following spring, when there aren’t enough roots to supply water to emerging buds.

To read the fully newsletter click here: Understanding how weird weather affects our plants – The Garden Professors™

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