Firebush Leaf Drop: Reasons For No Leaves On A Firebush
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By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer
Native to the tropical climates of Florida and Central/South America, firebush is an attractive, fast-growing shrub, appreciated not only for its masses of vibrant orange-red flowers, but for its attractive foliage. Firebush is generally easy to grow if you live in the warm climates of USDA plant hardiness zone 9 through 11, but even this hardy shrub is sometimes beset by problems, including firebush leaf drop. Let’s explore what may be to blame for a firebush losing leaves.
Why Leaves are Falling off Firebush
It’s typical for firebush to drop a few old leaves every year, but losing more than normal is an indication of some type of shock to the shrub. If you’re noticing firebush leaf drop, or if there are no leaves on a firebush, consider the following problems:
Shock– Sudden changes in temperature, either too cold or too hot, may be to blame for a firebush losing leaves. Similarly, dividing or moving the plant may also send it into shock and cause firebush leaf drop.
Drought– Like most shrubs, firebush may shed leaves to conserve water during periods of drought, although healthy, established shrubs usually tolerate drought stress better than newly planted trees. Water firebush shrubs deeply every seven to ten days during hot, dry weather. A layer of mulch will help prevent moisture loss.
Overwatering– Firebush doesn’t do well in overly wet conditions or soggy soil because the roots are unable to absorb oxygen. As a result, leaves may turn yellow and drop off the plant. Water deeply to encourage long, healthy roots, then allow the soil to dry out before watering again. If the soil doesn’t drain well, improve conditions by incorporating generous amounts of compost or mulch.
Pests– Firebush tends to be relatively pest free, but it may be bothered by various insects including mites, scale, and aphids. Many small, sucking insects can be controlled by insecticidal soap spray or neem oil.
Fertilizer problems– Lack of proper nutrients can cause foliage to turn yellow and eventually drop off the plant. Conversely, you may be killing your shrub with kindness if you’re applying too much fertilizer. Generally, a light application of fertilizer every spring is enough to support a healthy shrub.
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Burning Bush Losing Its Leaves
It is either too hot temperatures OR your area has not been receiving enough rain. Try watering it every day for a while. See if it perks up a little.
Here in Tennessee, even though we have had some rain lately, we are still below the amount of rain that is needed.
You can also call your County Extension Agent about this. They have so much knowledge of your specific area, and what to do for the plants.
There are County Extension Agents in every area, even if you live in a large city that is not considered an agricultural area. (07/29/2008)
Burning Bush Losing Its Leaves
Mine does the same thing last year was the Japanese beetles and hot weather and not enough rain. But still, Praise the Lord, it still comes back. Love that thing. (07/30/2008)
Archive: Burning Bush Losing Its Leaves
What is causing my burning bush leaves to fall off?
Jerry from St. Louis, Missouri
How to Cure a Dying Shrub
Healthy shrubs may lose leaves or needles as part of the growth process. A premature large loss or change in color of leaves or needles from a deciduous or evergreen shrub may be an early indication that something is wrong with the shrub. When attempting to diagnosis and cure a dying shrub, there are certain things you can change that may affect the long-term survival of the shrub.
Check the ground for moisture. The roots of the shrub should not be in standing water, which could cause root rot. If the soil is too moist, redirect the water away the shrub, perhaps by installing a French drain. Equally important is if the ground is too dry. The shrub can be watered every 7 to 14 days if there is no rainfall.
- Healthy shrubs may lose leaves or needles as part of the growth process.
- The roots of the shrub should not be in standing water, which could cause root rot.
Look for indication of bacterial or fungal disease, a problem that may occur in damp areas or during extended periods of high humidity. If you see spots on leaves, snip the branch off and dispose of it. Applying a commercial fungicide spray may help. Thinning of plants in the area to increase air flow may help.
Keep the area beneath and around the shrub free of debris, including fallen leaves or limbs. Remove and replace mulch. Ensure pets are not using the shrub or the area around it as a bathroom.
- Look for indication of bacterial or fungal disease, a problem that may occur in damp areas or during extended periods of high humidity.
- Thinning of plants in the area to increase air flow may help.
Examine the shrub for insects and clip off any problem areas. A commercial pesticide may help. Read the label closely for application instructions and do not use in an area where pets may come in contact with the shrub while the pesticide is still wet.
Prune off any stem affected with cankers, a bulging growth on or around the stem. Make the cut at least 6 inches into healthy wood.
Evaluate the sun level. Some shrubs, like hydrangea and azalea, prefer a part sun location. Full sun may cause the shrub to droop or lose leaves. If the shrub needs to be relocated to a more sun-correct location, wait until the fall while the shrub is dormant to transplant it. In the meantime, keep the area around shrub moist and use about 3 inches of mulch to help retain moisture and prevent dry out.
- Examine the shrub for insects and clip off any problem areas.
- In the meantime, keep the area around shrub moist and use about 3 inches of mulch to help retain moisture and prevent dry out.
Stop fertilizing the shrub. Too much fertilizer can impact the health of a shrub. In particular, do not start fertilization when a shrub appears to be dying. Fertilizer is intended to make a healthy shrub more full and robust.
Sterilize clippers before each cut using rubbing alcohol or a bleach and water mix of about 2 tablespoons bleach to 1 cup water.
Disease that enters a shrub through its roots, like bacteria or fungal infections, is difficult to cure. It may be best to remove the shrub. If a root-related disease was the problem, it may not be appropriate to replant in that area. Check with your county extension office for guidance.