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Arbutus unedo dying?

We moved house recently. We had to start our new garden from scratch, so we brought some of the plants we loved with us. We knew there may be some casualties but all but one have survived the move. The strawberry tree was lush and green but has changed dramatically. Almost all of the leaves are turning/have turned brown. It looked like it was in shock too, the leaves were all pointing one way as if they were being blown by a strong wind. Does anyone know if there anything we can do to save it or is it already too late? Sorry couldn’t turn
pic around ☺️



  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    I'm afraid the photo is too blurry to work out what's happened. If you can take another photo with some leaves, it may help others to diagnose.

    Where was the plant grown before? Aspect and area in the UK? By the sounds of what you describe, your new garden location may either be more colder/windier or soil conditions far different to your old place.

    When was the shrub planted and how much are you watering in a week? With the recent hot weather, for a shrub that size, you will need bucketfuls every few days.
  • LornsLorns Posts: 9
    Thanks for the reply. Sorry about the photo, hopefully these are a bit better. It is in a very similar clay type soil as before. In pretty much full sun and the same in its old location, which is only a 10 minute drive away, so no difference in temp etc. It is Watered regularly (more often now in current weather). The soil is quite damp underneath top
    layer. Planted with a good bit of grit so hopefully not sitting in water. We are inland not near the coast. 

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    Thank you for the photos. It does look like a combination of wind scorch and possible earlier attack of aphids or similar which has weakened the plant. But I suspect not enough water. The leaves that have turned bronze to brown will not recover and you need to collect them promptly from the base and dispose of them.

    It's good you mention grit, but make sure the grit is evenly distributed into the soil and not just sitting at the base of the planting hole. They do fine in clay soil when mature, but to be honest, do not do well when they are young. If you have heavy clay soil, you need to break it up quite a bit and work in masses of compost to open the soil up. If not, the shrub sits in a cosy mix that then gets water-logged in heavy rain, and when dry, the roots refuse to grow into the hard heavy soil surrounding it.

    Look into the soil and maybe mulch with chip bark or similar. Keep watering now as it is very warm. Water deep into the roots, at least a bucketful every 3 days throughout summer. It will be quite hard to over-water in the open ground. The shrub is trying to settle in. Leaves that have dried up will unlikely revive, so you will need to start pruning back a bit.

    Push the branches to feel if they are light and brittle. If stiff do not bend, they will have died back there. Hopefully, after the prune, the plant may regenerate. 

  • LornsLorns Posts: 9
    Brilliant! Appreciate the advice, we will give your suggestions a go...all sounds probable and very sensible. Thanks for taking so much time to help 😊 
  • Has your arbutus tree survived? 
  • Is my arbutus dying? I took pictures below on 9/10/2021, 9/25/2021, and 10/3/2021. 
    the leaves sagged on 9/25/2021 suddenly. I found grubs in the soil and some ants and tiny black dots on the leaves. After being treated with fungicide3, and vinegar on leaves, no grubs and insects can be found on 9/25/2021. But the leaves still drying out. 
    What should I do to make it alive again? 
    I plant it in the pot in Nov. 2019. it was 6 inches tall.  I moved it to the yard this August and it grows well. But the location only has 2 to 3 hours sun. This may weaken its health. When can I move it back to a large pot?

  • LornsLorns Posts: 9
    Hi yingrid

    My plant was in shock from a move I think. We moved house and brought it with us. Not long after replanting the leaves started turning brown. I had to make the difficult decision to cut it back to remove all the leaves. I’m not an gardening expert but nothing else worked. So it was a last resort. 
    It was quite a mature plant. 

    The following spring it started to grow new leaves and it looks like a very healthy, if much smaller 😅,plant again now. 

    The leaves never wilted like the leaves on your plant though. They all just turned very dry and brown. I’m sure there’s probably a more experienced gardener on here that may be able to help you.   

  • Hi, Lorns Thank you very much for sharing your experience. I am glad to see photos of your beautiful tree. It encourages me to keep working on saving my tree.
  • LornsLorns Posts: 9
    No problem! Sorry I couldn’t help you more...I hope your story has a happy ending too 😊
  • LornsLorns Posts: 9
    Maybe put your problem in a new discussion. Perhaps more people will see it then. People are very helpful on this forum.
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