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Ilex Crenata Hedge and Lambs Ears Problems

Hi. Looking for a bit of advice. I planted a new ilex crenata hedge along my front garden wall and unfilled with lambs ears. A year later, they've not really done so well.  The Ilex has been dropping leaves, never filled out, and the lambs ears are turning brown.  The exterior of the wall is West facing. I tried to keep the soil the right level of moisture, but wondering if this is perhaps a water issue (too much maybe).  Trying to determine my next move.  I am wondering if the hedge could use a prune to try and stimulate growth. I'm reading conflicting info, some say a September prune is ok, others wait until spring. I'm also wondering if I should remove the lambs ears to get better air flow at the roots. Any thoughts/opinions?
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  • Here's a pic at first planting a year ago.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,145
    I'd take the Stachys out. Too much competition, and it'll be too shaded for it to thrive.  :)
    There isn't a lot of room there for the hedge, but plenty of water after planting, and some decent soil is necessary to get any hedge established. It may have suffered a bit by not having enough of those two things. 
    Ideally, you'd prune back a bit on planting, but it won't really matter. It might be a bit late to trim now, depending on where you are, but it probably wouldn't do any harm to give it a tidy. If the soil's a bit dry, a good mulch after lots of water will help. You can use any organic matter- bark, compost, leaf mould etc, and that will also keep the soil in good condition. 
    It's always dry next to a wall, plus you have the footings of it as well, and you also have a lot of paving, but if you keep mulching on a regular basis, the hedge will come away, even if it's a bit slower than it would be in perfect conditions.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • AstroAstro Posts: 364
    I bought some ilex crenata a couple of years back as a box substitute and it is very slow growing from my experience so far.  Pruning has helped it thicken though it's not filled out amazingly well so far.

    Subsequent reading and video watching suggests this is what the general consensus is,  I've since bought Yew and Osmanthus burkwoodii for topiary since.


  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,145
    O. burkwoodii is an excellent shrub @Astro - for hedging or a specimen  :)

    You're right too - at a year in, the Ilex is only just getting established. It'll come away better by next year.   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • AstroAstro Posts: 364
    Pleased to hear that @Fairygirl .The Osmanthus is only in a pot at the moment,  but it'll be going in the ground in a few weeks. I'm intending on making it a ball but it looks a very versatile plant so may just let further inspiration lead the way.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,145
    I've had mine for several years @Astro. It provides a bit of evergreen cover for the birds. One of my little cage bird feeders is inside it  :)

    I just snip bits off when they're a bit wayward. It's a great shrub. I've taken some cuttings for a friend, so hopefully they'll work. Might do more for myself and try having a bit of topiary too  ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • AstroAstro Posts: 364
    It must be a decent size shrub then @Fairygirl ? I have clipped my shrub twice since I bought it a few months ago and it's responded well with branching growth thickening it.
  • Thank you both @Astro and @Fairygirl.  Interestingly, I was deciding between the Ilex and Osmanthus burkwoodii for the hedge and ultimately decided on the Ilex given its similar appearance to box.  Perhaps I'll wait until the spring and give it a prune and a good top dressing of organic matter and hopefully I'll get more vigorous growth in the second year.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,145
    All shrubs take a while to establish their roots before they really get into growth properly @ddo101, and it looks healthy enough in your photos. This autumn and winter rain will help, and you should get some more growth next year. I meant to say that a bit of leaf drop is also normal, especially if there's any stress, or in extreme weather spells etc, and is usually nothing to worry about. All evergreens drop leaves at various times through the year, and then replace them   :)

    Mine is in a raised bed @Astro, so it's more restricted, but they can get to a a good 2 or 3 metres in the right spot. It gets a bit of leaf damage in winter, but it doesn't affect it. 
    The little flowers are a bonus, but if you're topiarising, you'll not get them. Mine is around a metre in each direction, but there are bits that are taller, due to it's position, and the bird feeder. It's also good for cutting to put in with flowers in a vase.
    Not a very good pic - but this is from about 3 years ago. You can see some taller bits off to the right. It's on a corner, so some spread round there too. I don't really do anything to it feed wise either. 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,145
    I suddenly remembered about this query, so I took a [somewhat better] photo from further away a few days ago, then forgot to post it  :(

    It's in a confined space [raised bed] so it would be a lot bigger and heftier if it was in open ground, but you get the idea
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


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