Written by Dale Richardson - Updated: June 23, 2023
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The beautiful leaves of laurel make it ideal for hedging, and a very popular choice, at that (but you likely know that). The combination of quick growth rate, shiny look, and dense foliage makes it the perfect choice - assuming you take care of it. If you're having laurel hedge problems, you've come to the right place!
The most common laurel hedge problems are powdery mildew, leaf spot fungi, bacterial shothole, and frost damage.
Sure, I can say those words and assume you know what they mean, but who really knows that off the top of their head? Let's break it down a bit more, shall we?
Let's start with the basics and move on to specific questions after. Ensuring your hedge is planted properly will make these issues less likely to appear, though they still might.
Laurel hedges can be planted at pretty much any time of year, depending on the variety you have. The variety will affect the timing, so check out the following:
As a side note, ensure your soil isn't still frozen or frosted. This will make it nearly impossible for the laurel roots to take hold.
Sunlight isn't too important here, nor is soil moisture - though it's better to keep the soil at least slightly hydrated. In short, laurel hedges are super sturdy and resilient plants, meaning that you can afford a bit of guesswork here.
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Let's get into the real meat of things - issues with properly planted laurel hedges. These plants are, generally, not subject to any major diseases. Any problems that do take hold could even resolve themselves as the hedge grows. Nonetheless, let's take a look at the three most common issues to arise with laurel hedges.
Each of these diseases generally occurs between spring and autumn in damp, humid environments. Cherry laurel is more susceptible to these particular issues, though any variety can experience them. Generally, all of these diseases will present with holes and distortions in the shrubbery, with tattered leaves on the edges.
Let's start with symptoms, shall we? Look for the following:
You can generally treat powdery mildew with organic or synthetic compounds. If you're using synthetic chemicals, be sure to read up on them before applying. There's no sense in accidentally killing your hedge because you couldn't be bothered to read a label.
There are two solutions I recommend to treat powdery mildew:
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Leaf spot fungi and bacterial shothole appear as very similar afflictions on the surface. They will both show:
The best way to treat this is with fungicide and pruning.
The former will treat infection, and the latter will control spread to other parts of the hedge, or worse, other plants. Be sure to rake up fallen leaves as soon as possible and avoid overwatering. Wet conditions are the ideal environment for fungus to grow - don't help the fungus come back.
If you're looking for an organic alternative to synthetic fungicide, you can first try mixing 2.5 mL baking soda with 4 litres of water and misting occasionally. Again, don't over-treat - you're adding moisture, after all.
This is rather self-explanatory, but we'll break it down nonetheless. This can happen at different times of the year, depending on your location, so pay attention to the weather when planting. Look for:
Depending on when you plant your hedge, you'll see these issues more often. It's best to plant in the summer and give your hedge time to grow healthily before frosts show up. To treat frost damage, you really need to do only one thing - prune. Trimming back damaged growth will prevent the damage from spreading and keep the hedge from sending nutrients to dead bits of the plant.
Just like with all plants, laurel hedges need attention. Luckily, they're not that needy and generally don't suffer from severely debilitating diseases - though some that are less serious will still appear occasionally. This will be more likely if you have a cherry laurel, though no matter your variety, you're still more than able to treat them - powdery mildew, leaf spot fungus, and bacterial shothole should not be death sentences for your hedge.
Generally, pruning will solve the problem. In case you're in the market for a new hedge trimmer, take a look at our guide to the best cordless hedge trimmers on the market today! And above all - don't fret if you notice some damage. Try the above treatments, prune back dying leaves, and rake up those that have fallen. You'll see the hedge return to its healthy, normal self, and prevent any fungus or mildew from spreading.
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