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Unhappy bay laurel

I'M having problems with my hedge of bay laurel. My section has two levels, so I planted larger plants on the lower level and smaller ones on the top, to bring the hedge to the same height quicker. The larger plants are doing extremely well, but the smaller ones are not so happy. The bark is coming away from the trunk and in some cases the branches and the leaves are discolouring. Some branches have died. Locals suggest rabbit damage causing disease, and wet feet. I have sprayed the plants several times with systemic insecticide/fungicide, but the problem persists. When I pulled out some of the worst plants, the root system looked healthy, and where I had previously cut the top off, the roots have reshooted.


WITHOUT actually seeing the plants it's hard to be certain, but it does sound as if something has damaged the lower stems and branches, cutting off sap flow to the upper parts. As it doesn't appear to have affected the roots, it's unlikely to be wet feet. Rabbits can certainly cause these sorts of symptoms, but their damage is usually easy to recognise, with fresh bite marks visible where they've eaten the bark away. And if they really like the taste of a plant they can totally destroy newly planted ones.

Weekend Gardener, Issue 148, 2004, Page 26

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.

Andrew Maloy Weekend Gardener

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