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Pseudopanax woes

I have an established pseudopanax that recently started to drop a tremendous amount of leaf clusters. If you trace the five leaves back to the stem that is attached to the main branch then you see that the connecting point has browned off and is very easily pushed off the plant. No other trees/shrubs seem to be suffering in any way. Is there anything I can do to save this tree?


Pseudopanax species and cultivars are not attacked by much — occasionally the leaves get chewed by insects or spotted by fungi. When whole leaves drop off, however, it indicates there may be a problem under the soil.  One thing that many New Zealand natives really hate is to have "wet feet".  Poor drainage and wet, humid conditions encourage root rots, which unfortunately are usually fatal.

There is not a lot you can do to treat a root rot condition, but if the tree does not recover, you should consider removing it.  To prevent a reoccurrence, you will need to look at your soil structure.  If you have nasty sticky clay, you may want to consider putting in some drainage.  Other things which will help include organic matter (compost, peat, etc.), sand and gypsum (generally what is found in commercial "clay-destroying" mixtures).

UnitecAdvice by Dr Dan Blanchon from Unitec's Diploma in Sustainable Horticulture and Bachelor of Resource Management.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

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Last updated: June 27, 2005