Forum home Problem solving

Small privets are going brown/dying

I have 4 small privets in our small garden. They are all of sudden going brown/dying.  Any thoughts?  Could it be too much water?  Are they retrievable?  there are still some green shoots?
pic.jpg 694.6K


  • RubytooRubytoo Posts: 1,373
    Sorry mooreshome I do not know the answer as I am not familiar with growing privet. Your soil looks nice and dark so compost added and well watered.
    Overwatering,  you might like to say how much and often you have been. 
    Also sorry to ask are you sure they are privet and not box plants/shrubs. There is a blight disease that can cause similar looking symptoms. Just asking so others can help.
    Sorry as everything else looks so well and cared for.
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 9,637
    That does look more like box than privet.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • You have me doubting now - just assumed and never questioned as they remind me of the privet hedges my dad had when i was growing. Seems bizarre that all 4 have look impacted, some worse than others.  Blight disease, not sure if this means they have had it?
  • Looks like box to me ... this may be of help

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Oh no, sounds like this would account for 4 plants being affected
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 9,637
    With the close-up photo I'm pretty sure that's box, but I can't tell what the problem is.  Box blight spreads quickly once you have it so it could be affecting all of them. If it's a watering problem then they should recover and regrow next year if you fix the problem. Have you pushed a trowel (or your hand) down into the soil next to them to see if it's waterlogged (or dry) down near the bottom of the roots?  Do you have poor drainage in other areas nearby?
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 8,201
    edited September 2018
    Looks like box to me as well. They look as though they've been cut hard back and then not grown back too well - perhaps because of the drought, perhaps because they're hungry or due to some other stressing factor - but there may be a touch of blight involved as well - but that's not obvious from the photo.

    The other (new) pest for box is the box caterpillar. Again, no obvious sign in the photo but worth checking if there are any lurking in the leaves (probably a bit late in the year now though). 

    I would clear the soil immediately underneath and around them so they are not competing with weeds / other plants, give them a good spray or drench of liquid seaweed, then a good 4" mulch - preferably with some nice garden compost . Cross fingers and wait until spring.

    With a bit of luck you will then see lots of tiny green buds along the stems. When the leaves break start a proper programme of feeding by spraying every 2 weeks with liquid seaweed or with a product such as Top Buxus (use as per the manufacturers instructions).

    Next year consider either not trimming them at all (if they still look rather poorly) or just trimming them once in June when the weather is forecast to be dry for a few days. Don't despair about box blight - I've brought mine back from near death with a proper fungicide treatment for one year and then a good, regular feeding regime for the last 2 years. I also mulch heavily around the base each spring to both feed the plants and to suppress any fungal spores lurking in the soil.
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • Jenny no re poor drainage tbh - it seems like this blight, as i have 4 of them, 2 on one side and 2 on the other and all 4 are impacted.  Does cutting them back help or is it a case of leaving it. From what i have read sounds a pest.  I am pretty much a novice gardener tbh which does not help - Karen
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 9,637
    I used to have two box balls that got blight. I chucked them out and didn't replace them.
    The RHS advice is here and it does say you can cut out the affected parts, but I it could take a long time to regain the nice conical shapes even if they survive.  Unless you're particularly attached to them, it might be less hassle to use the spaces for something else.  If you haven't had the plants long and there's no blighted box growing nearby that could have infected them, it might be worth going back to the retailer because they could have already been infected but not showing the damage yet.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
Sign In or Register to comment.