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Pyracantha with yellowy-brown leaves

Our pyracantha has looked rather sickly since last year and now the leaves have turned yellowy-brown and wilted.  It didn't flower last year - so no berries - and the same has happened this year.  Our neighbour's pyracantha is looking very healthy and is on the same chalky soil as ours.  Do you think it is possible to save our shrub or should we remove and replace it?


  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    It's difficult to diagnose without a few photos. You mention your neighbours' shrubs look healthy, but they may be grown in a different way. Different age and size. Other things to consider, are they growing them the same way as yours - in the middle of a border, or against a wall, or getting more/less sun.

    Generally, Pyracanthas are tough shrubs once they have established. How long have you had this shrub? Is it getting enough water during the dry spell. Wilting normally means lack of water, die-back for shrubs, sometimes heavy soils with poor drainage. 
  • Margaret461Margaret461 Posts: 14
    I attach a photo of our pyracantha.  Our neighbour's shrub is slightly younger than ours - which we think is about 20 years old - and is about the same height.  Their's is at the front of the house, whereas ours is at the back.  It has been well watered, but the chalky soil is quite free-draining.  I don't think it can be due to lack of water though as it has been frequently watered.  Our pyracantha is growing near to our neighbour's euonymous hedge and we wondered if this is taking all the moisture from our soil.

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    There is definitely an issue, but I can't see the nearby plants or soil so hard to judge. So it is an established shrub and it has started to deteriorate slowly over the last year or so. Although they are tough, they will not like being planted under over hanging trees/shrubs with constant debris dropping overhead. If this might be an issue, consider pruning back nearby overhanging branches.

    Pyracantha is also susceptible to Fire-blight where new growth is often stunted and then the growth dries up and go all brown and black. Have you seen any of this happening last year? Scab can also affect Pyracantha, and in the same way, it causes masses of leaf drop and then die-back on weaker branches. The only way to deal with that is to cut back immediately to areas that seem healthy. Remove fallen leaves around the base to prevent re-infection. If possible, try to work in a lot of new compost and give it a feed again.

    Many evergreen shrubs shed leaves slowly when they are under-stress, and although your shrub may be established, it may still be under stress from lack of water and it can take up to a year or two to show their stress. Where there is no rain for weeks on end in the summer, make sure you water it thoroughly directly into the base.

  • Margaret461Margaret461 Posts: 14
    Thanks for your advice Borderline.  We will try cutting back to healthy branches and see if it picks up.  It could, as you say, have been caused a year or two ago when there was a spell of very dry weather.
  • Margaret461Margaret461 Posts: 14
    Some good news!  Have started cutting back our pyracantha and all the branches are healthy.  My husband has cut back any encroaching branches from the hedge and we will dig any compacted soil around it to make sure moisture is reaching the roots.  It looks as though the problem is being caused by the dry weather rather than a disease.
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    Glad to hear that. Give it a bit of space and nourish the soil and then water. Hopefully, the leaves will start to form soon.
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,175
    Gallons and gallons and gallons ... three times a week ... until mid September 👍 

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

  • It has been well watered, but unfortunately seems to be getting worse.  My husband trimmed it back to 'good' wood, but even the cuts are turning reddish-brown, as are the few leaves left on it.  I suspect that it has fireblight.
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    Sorry to read about this. With Fireblight, leaves start to dry up and the branches turn brittle at the end stages. I would continue to water it throughout the summer and if no improvement by late autumn to winter, it may have had it.

    Normally in the warm weather, the branches will start to form new leaves, but if no sign of that over the next few months, it sounds like it's too late.
  • Thanks for your advice.  There are no signs of new leaves appearing, so I think it's probably too late to save it.  I would like to replace it later if there are no signs of life, but need a shrub which has nice berries to attract the birds - any suggestions?
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