Variegated Acuba With Yellow Leaves

Filed Under: Perennial Plants, Diseases and Fungus, Landscape Gardens · Keywords: Hi, Shade, My, Up, Plant, New, Plants, About, Fertilize, Maintenance · 1878 Views
Hi, I have had great success over the years with using acuba in my shade beds in Northwest Florida. Some of my acuba is more than 10 years old and a couple years ago, I planted more in a new shade bed in a different part of my yard. These plants are of course, still fairly young. Over the past few weeks I have noticed yellow leaves on all the Acuba, young and old. Our precip has been on the wet side but with a warm spring as many of you in Florida are aware. Our rain events have not surpassed those of years gone by, however. Does anyone have any idea about this? I do not fertilize my acuba and love the maintenance free part about them. Thank you.


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Answer #1 · Maple Tree's Answer · Hi Kristal-With both the established and new aucubas leaves turning yellow I'm thinking several fungal diseases that can attack this plant may not be the problem. Are any of the stems turning black? Is there any spotting or browning of the leaves? Is there any severe wilting of the leaves? These may indicate a fungal disease most likely affecting the root system of the plants. If these plants are suffering from Phytophthora root rot which can infect may plants such as the aucuba there isn't much that can be done but cutting off the infected stems. Plants become more vulnerable to this disease due to stress from drought, winter damage, clay soils that may be holding too much water. Heavily wilting plants with leaves and stems turning black would be an indication of this disease. Sometimes winter damage from freezing temperatures may not show up until spring but this type of damage will normally be indicated by browning and dropping of the leaves. If only a few of the older leaves are yellowing and possibly dropping this would be normal as the plants at times will discard some of the older leaves putting their energy into developing new growth. If the leaves on both the more established and newer plants look good other than some yellowing and there appears to be no unusual spotting or browning I'm thinking the problem is too wet a soil. It sounds like the yellowing is throughout the entire plants both planted in different locations. This yellowing which you may know is chlorosis which is the lack of the essential green pigment chlorophyll. This is normally caused by poor drainage, damaged or compacted roots, high soil pH, and nutrient deficiencies. With the older plants doing so well over the years without needing any fertilization I'm assuming your soil is rich in the nutrients needed to keep them healthy. Although the soil structure and nutrient availability can vary from one location to another both plants in different locations are showing the same yellowing. Because of this I believe the problem is too much water for a period of time. Too much moisture in the soil can suffocate roots inhibiting their ability to absorb nutrients such as iron, magnesium and others causing this chlorosis. Digging down around the plants 6 to 8 inches the soil should feel cool and moist but never too wet or dry. At this time if the leaves are only showing some yellowing and no wilting, spotting, or browning I would continue to let the soil dry out somewhat. Once you feel the soil has dried out or no longer wet I would fertilize with a fertilizer formulated for acid loving plants such as azaleas and rhododendrons. With your older plants doing so well without fertilization through the years you could also use any ballanced slow release shrub and tree fertilizer. Let me know if you feel too much moisture was the problem. Also let me know if there are any other problems showing on the leaves or the plants as a whole that may indicate more problems other than the yellowing shown now.

Please ask if you have any other questions.

John)



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Answer #3 · Kristal Walsh's Answer · I don't understand the rate/thumbs up and down thing. I try to click on the thumbs up and inevitably the thumbs down will light up and then I can't undo it. It is very sensitive it seems.)


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Maple Tree

Maple Tree · Gardenality Genius · Zone 10A · 30° to 35° F
Once you have rated an answer good and understandable with a thumbs up it won't register a second thumbs up except if another member also rates it a thumbs up. I sometimes forget I have given an answer or comment a thumbs up and click on it again by mistake. Sometimes this will remove the original thumbs up and it can't be given again. Not sure why clicking on the thumbs up again would show up as a thumbs down. I will have to look into this. Also, although an answer is marked "Excepted" it may not be the answer that received the most thumbs up by individual members. The answer that receives the most thumbs up is always noted first. When you reply or make a comment to an answer you should use the 'Comment about this answer' box below the answer. This way your comments or reply won't show up as an answer to your original question.

3 years ago ·
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Answer #2 · Kristal Walsh's Answer · The yellowing is wide spread and I have quite a bit of acuba around one live oak. I uploaded a couple photos. The stems are not black and we have not had rain now in over a week and a half. We have very little clay in our soils here, less than 5%, so soils are well drained. You can see that they are not wilting in fact the new growth is quite green and perky. I just don't remember this much yellowing in the past, so hopefully it is just a phase. Thank you, Kristal)


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Maple Tree

Maple Tree · Gardenality Genius · Zone 10A · 30° to 35° F
Kristal-From what I see most of the top growth and new foliage looks healthy. I don't see any die back, wilting, or spotting of these leaves which would indicate a root problem or fungal disease. Most of the yellowing and some browning of leaves is on the older lower leaves. A nutrient deficiency would normally affect the upper newer growth. I think a couple of things are causing the lower growth to yellow, brown, and most likely eventually drop. Although it has been dry for a week or so too much water at times will affect the lower leaves first. The yellowing and dropping of the older lower leaves is also normal at this time of year. It is natural for plants to shed the older leaves allowing energy to be put into the new foliage. I would remove these older yellowing leaves to clean up the plants. This will remove leaves that are no longer benificial to the plant that could hold too much moisture and cut down on the air circulation throughout the plants. Too much moisture with little air circulation helps to promote fungal diseases. Why there seems to be more yellowing of the older lower leaves this year is hard to tell. Again possibly more water around the roots this year at the same time as the plants are growing fairly tall now the sheding may be more or at least more pronounced. With the plants growing taller the loss of older leaves will make the plants look less full or compact. If you like you can prune the plants back next year to help with this. This pruning should be done in late winter or early spring after any freezing temperatures are expected and before new growth appears. Using some pruning shears I would cut back the branches by 1/3 of their length. Cut back the stems just above where the stem meets another branch or where you see a leaf node. Cut out any dead or damaged branches and any that are rubbing against another. This pruning will rejuvenate the plants developing a lot of new lower growth making the plants look much fuller. Let me know if anything changes as far as the amount of yellowing or if you notice any spotting, browning, or wilting of the leaves that may indicate other problems.

3 years ago ·
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Kristal Walsh

Kristal Walsh · Gardenality Seedling · Zone 8B · 15° to 20° F
Thanks, John! For some reason, I have never thought about pruning the acuba and that it is most likely what they need for sure. My younger plants will need pruning regularly to keep them from growing in front of my windows so thanks for the reminder. On to the next gardening challenge!

3 years ago ·
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Maple Tree

Maple Tree · Gardenality Genius · Zone 10A · 30° to 35° F
You're welcome Kristal. You can pinch back the ends of the stems of your younger plants anytime during the year. This will help to control their size and force new fuller growth giving them a more compact appearance. In locations where height is a problem you might want to think about planting the dwarf forms of Green or Variegated Aucuba. Good luck with your next challenge

3 years ago ·
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