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Dead Dwarf Carolina Laurel Plant in Southern California hedge

caro-mcaro-m Posts: 2
edited December 2020 in Plants
This should be in Problem Solving - sorry.  Newbie error.

I planted 6 individual laurels 24 months ago.  I amended the soil prior to planting, and the hedge has been regularly watered and is now established.  This year, one plant has struggled and now died.  In the picture below, you can see 1 laurel to the left, and there are 2 to the right of the dead plant.  They are all in the same water path, and have the same underplanting, and receive the same fertilizer.   A local nursery suggested it might be a fungus, and I treated the individual plant as well as the rest of the hedge.  New leaves started to grown, but then blackened and died in a way that looked as if it was a watering issue - I'm wondering of the roots of this one plant got waterlogged?  We had So Cal Gas dig up a pipe system that was in front of that plant - I'm wondering if they backfilled the hole with something that prevented the roots from getting proper drainage.  I guess I'll find out when I dig the individual plant out.  Bt, I don't know how to do that, and I don't want to damage the other plants in the hedge.

This next week or so, I plan to dig up the dead plant and replace it with a new laurel to fill the gap.  I would like advice on how to do this, and if it's the right thing to do.  Also, what should I look for in the root system of the dead plant?  Any thoughts why just this one plant died, while all the rest are ok?

Thank-you, gardeners!


  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 21,519
    Hello caro-m

    Happy Christmas.

    Sorry, most of us here are in UK and hardly any in North America.

    However, you might consider this article:

    Best wishes for 2021.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 11,152
    edited December 2020
    It might just be one of those things where a plant dies for no apparent reason. Until you get it out and inspect the roots and the hole it's practically impossible to say. When you do get it out, post a couple of photos and we may be able to help. Just try and lever it out as best you can, if the others are healthy they should be okay .
    There are a few members from the US who post on here, but it could also be a problem recognised over here.
    Merry Christmas  :)
  • TopbirdTopbird Posts: 7,702
    As AnniD says - sometimes plants die for no apparent reason. The plants either side of the dead one look strong and healthy and I would expect them to fill fill the gap where the dead plant is. 

    Personally I'd be tempted to cut the dead plant back to the ground and not try to get it out as you may damage the roots of the good plants. But then I'm a bit of a lazy b and always looking for the easy option....
    Heaven is ... sitting in the garden with a G&T and a cat while watching the sun go down
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 8,068
    On a positive note, it looks as if the healthy plants on each side are already spreading across the gap, so they'll probably fill it out so you don't need to replace the dead one. When you prune the hedge, just nip the tips off those branches growing across the gap, to encourage them to make side shoots.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • caro-mcaro-m Posts: 2
    edited December 2020
    Happy Boxing Day, everyone! Thank-you for your helpful suggestions and observations.  Very interesting to read about the impact of gas lines, Pansyface.  I am going to dig up the gravel at the front of the plant as the So Cal folk didn't replace the weed barrier cloth I'd put down, and I now have weeds coming through my gravel.😡 Depending on what that looks like, I'll decide about the digging up of the dead plant.  I'll prune the branches as JennyJ has suggested = perhaps that will be sufficient to "mind the gap"!  Funny how gardening grows on one...I'll let you know how I get on.   
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