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Sick Ceanothus? Not dropping its leaves

essex, England Eng

i have a lovely ceanothous in my garden, i am not sure on the variety, but it has quite large leaves, and pale lilac flowers in the autumn. i looked it up in my book to ID it and think it could be C. x delideanus, which is a deciduous variety, but it kept all of its leaves when everything else in the garden dropped. we have had quite a mild winter up unitl a couple of weeks ago when we have had some quite heavy frost, we have had no snow so far. and the leaves now look like this in fact the whole plant does'nt too well at all. i can see no sign of new growth as yet and a lot of the other shurbs and perennials that did drop in the autumn are now showing signs of growing back! can anyone help? is this just dropping late, or do you think that there is something more sinister going on? if so any advice on what to do with it? please - would hate to loose it,

On plant Ceanothus




I grow 'Gloire de Versailles' which may be the same as yours.
It keeps its leaves in a mild winter but may drop them in a cold spell (this is a defence mechanism as it will lose moisture through its leaves and may not be able to replace it fast enough at the root). Mine has not started to shoot yet either so there is plenty of time. Even evergreens shed their leaves at some time; they just tend to do it piecemeal, often in early spring, rather than in one big drop in the autumn. Ceanothus come from the Western USA which is somewhat warmer than our climate so don't be surprised if your plant looks a bit shocked after a cold spell.
One final check you might want to make - take a sharp knife and scrape a little bark away just above ground level. If it shows green, your plant is still alive; but if it is brown or grey, I'm afraid you have an ex-ceanothus

20 Feb, 2008


thanks Andrew, as ever i think you are spot on 'Gloire de Versailles' was the picture i was looking at when trying to ID it in my book, so i think i proberly have the same as you. and what you have said about moisture loss would make perfect sense, we have'nt had much rain for weeks, i went out there yesterday and gave everything a good drink as the ground was bone dry. anyway i did what you said and scrapped off some bark and it is green - thankfully not ex-ceanothus! lol so is there anything i need to do to bring it back to its former glory? i have some blood,fish and bone in the shed, also should i remove damaged leaves and prune? or is it best left alone?

20 Feb, 2008


Lets face it Angie, if it did die, you could always replace it with a conifer! :o)

20 Feb, 2008


ha ha ha!

20 Feb, 2008


Just give it a general feed when you do your garden sprng tidy. Don't bother about the leaves, it'll do what it wants with them. As to pruning, the book reckons cutting it back to a low framework (as you would with a buddleia), otherwise it gets fairly large and full of old wood - again wait until it starts to show signs of new shoots so you can see where to cut back to

20 Feb, 2008


thanks Andrew, i'll set myself a reminder to do that.

21 Feb, 2008


I would avoid pruning Ceanothus as this usually proves to be the beginning of the end. If you start cutting bits off other bits die, so you cut those off and other bits die etc etc. It's still quite small but looks OK, have some patience, or try to ignore it for a while and one month you'll re-notice it and say wow look at that, hasn't it grown!

21 Feb, 2008


Are you sure on that Volunteer? or are you just talking about this particular vareity? cos i have grown the spring flowering ones many times before, i had one at my last house which i cut back all of the time, in fact i made it into a topary tree and never had a problem. but having said that it is the first time i have grown this one, but surely it would benefit from removing any dead wood once it starts to grow?

21 Feb, 2008


This particular variety is definitely one to prune at this time of year. I've just read a list in my AG magazine, too, and lo and behold, there's its name!

22 Feb, 2008


thanks spritz, it does look like it needs something does'nt it! - i'll make some time to get out there this weekend and give it some tlc, i also have some blood, fish and bone in the shed and the ground looks like it needs a bit of a loosening.

22 Feb, 2008

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