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Portuguese Laurel Still Not Happy! Recovery Advice Needed Please.

PlantmindedPlantminded WirralPosts: 1,018
Last year I pruned two Portuguese  laurels in early summer, reducing their size by about 30%.  I have very sandy soil which has poor water and nutrient retention qualities which I try to improve each year with an occasional top dressing of multipurpose compost and farmyard manure. 

The shrubs had been in situ for about six years so I thought they were robust and wouldn't need any extra care.  However, within a few weeks they both suffered from an attack of powdery mildew.  I resorted to spraying the affected foliage with a systemic fungicide, which I would not normally use.  This seemed to halt progress.  I realise now that I should have also given the plants extra water for an extended period - hindsight!

The plants remained in a state of suspended animation for the rest of the year, showing no signs of growth.  Now they look as if they are starting to bud again, but some of the old foliage is still damaged and yellow.

What should I be doing now to ensure a healthy recovery this year?  I'd welcome any advice please.  Here's the damage and sign of recovery, both photographed today:


  • UffUff SW Scotland but born in DerbyshirePosts: 1,701
    The recovery is looking good Plantminded. There isn't a lot you can do about the damaged leaves except take them off. They might fall off anyway, as you know most evergreens do lose some leaves. If that were my shrub I wouldn't be worried about it at this stage.
  • PlantmindedPlantminded WirralPosts: 1,018
    Great, thank you @Uff, that's what I was hoping to hear!  I was planning to give it some blood fish and bone soon, do you think that's a good idea?
  • UffUff SW Scotland but born in DerbyshirePosts: 1,701
    Not knowing your soil it's hard to say but I can give you an example. I have a Portuguese laurel, it has been in my garden for 7 years, it was planted as a 2ft high young 'un. It sits in front of three ash trees in the woodland. I've never fed or watered it. It's about 6 or 7ft now. See below.
    I think in the main laurels are very hardy, don't cause much grief, and quickly get over any problem they might have had. 

  • PlantmindedPlantminded WirralPosts: 1,018
    Wow, that's magnificent compared to my similarly aged Portuguese laurel @Uff

    I'm now certain that the main problem is the situation - there's a bed of sandstone about 3 feet below the border which then runs under and supports the top part of my house🤞! The plant doesn't have much of a root run and the soil is very sandy.  I suppose it's really growing in the equivalent of a container or raised bed. 

    If I mulch, feed and water over the coming months I'm hoping it will regain its previous size - just enough to obliterate the view of my neighbour's lovely new garden office (shed!)😊

    Thank you for your help.
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