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Ilex Crenta Cloud Tree

I bought an Ilex Crenata cloud pruned tree from a garden centre a couple of years ago from a local garden centre for £350 but over the last year it has been increasingly becoming bare of leaves in places. It is still in the original large plastic plant pot I bought it in and it sits on my south east facing patio in East Yorkshire. I don't know what is causing it to become like it. I have considered a caterpillar or vine weevil or a fungus perhaps or maybe it just needs re-potting but I have no clue. The leaves that are still on the tree are green with the odd dead brown/dried out leaves here and there. I  cant see anything obvious causing this. I have used a vine weevil drench on it in the past just in case but it has made no difference, it is getting worse with time. Someone recently suggested I re-pot it in a larger pot but not too large, using ericaceous soil rather than a tree/shrub compost but is this advisable? Can anyone please tell what they think is causing this and what I need to do to save my lovely tree before it's too late? Oh I forgot to also mention someone suggested to try using sequestered iron but when I have looked at what that is used for it seems more suited to yellowing leaves from what I can tell.


  • It's almost certainly drought. They hate to dry out. It has probably outgrown the soil in its pot and cannot get enough water. I doubt very much if it is vine weevil. Mine have always only shed leaves when dry. If you are really diligent about watering it--like, even in the winter (the pot will not receive a lot of rain, remember) and then in the summer, perhaps even every day in heatwaves, it will slowly recover and be fine. 

    If you decide to repot, this is a good idea. I would add in some water retaining granules. My current one is in the ground in alkaline clay so they don't need ericaceous soil, but you should definitely use a soil-based compost llike John Innes no. 3. A potting compost will not work at all--shrubs hate that for containers. It needs something solid to get its roots into.

    If you repot you will also have the chance to check for nasties like vine weevil, but as i say, I don't think this is likely to be the problem.

  • PS But it will take about 9 months to recover fully with tender care--if it cost £350 it deserves it...image

  • I have 2 Ilex crenata cloud trees about 6 ft in my front garden soil, my question is I am moving house and would like to take them with me at the end of October, can anyone give me any information regarding how to move them. 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353
    Have you notified the new buyers that you're taking them? It usually has to be stated in the conditions of  sale.
    If they're potted, it's fine. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,262
    It sounds as if they're in the ground, @Fairygirl - "in my front garden soil".

    I'd second the advice to make sure they're mentioned in the paperwork you have to fill in when you sell your house, about what is and what isn't included in the sale.  You can get into trouble otherwise...

    How long have they been planted in your garden, @dalziehdZBj8FDj?  That will obviously determine how far their roots will have spread, and how much of a job it will be to dig them up.
    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • To return to the original question,  I agree Ilex need much more water than something like box or privet. Definitely re-pot and keep well watered as suggested. 
    AB Still learning

  • Last July, they were in wide shallow pots when we bought them, we have permission to take them with us, my question is what the best way to transfer them, would heasian be good as I don't think pots would be ideal 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353
    I'm losing the plot @Liriodendron :D
    Apologies @dalziehdZBj8FDj. Hessian is certainly good, but it depends how easily you can get them out the ground.
    If you're moving soon - ie over winter, it's much easier to lift and replant anything. It's also easier if you can wait until as near to moving day as possible.
    You can pot them, but the rootballs will be substantial, so it could be tricky. Even heavy duty poly bags [doubled up] are fine.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Would it harm the tree if the roots were damaged when digging them out, and how long would I be able to keep them in the hessian before planting them back into the new garden, as it needs work done to prepare the ground, grey slate down in place of grass. 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,353
    Ah - in that case it might be better to get pots for them, and you can then keep them safe for as long as it takes to get your new site ready. You could have a poke about [gently!] and see what sort of size you'd need. You could always utilise plastic crates or similar, that you can get in supermarkets etc, to get a decent enough size, as 'proper' pots can be pricey. 
    The idea is to to do as little damage as possible, by making sure the roots are well enough moistened, and then the tree is exposed to as little stress as possible. 
    You may find they'll struggle anyway, but if you want to take them, it's part of the risk unfortunately. With most shrubs, you'd simply cut them back, but it's not going to be appropriate in your case.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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