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I planted two "Red Robin" bushes 19 years ago. These have developed into a mature hedge approx. 10 feet high by about 25 feet wide and have been perfectly healthy. However, from late summer/early autumn part of one of these "bushes" has started to "die" with the leaves becoming dull and leathery but not droping from the branches. I have since cut away most of the "dead" wood but would like to know the possible causes for this occurrence. Your replies will be much appreciated.



When the die back occurred, did the tops of the affected branches hang over, like a shepherds crook?

23 Oct, 2011


Yes, they do and I have since learned that the problem may be caused by "fire blight" Do you agree?

24 Oct, 2011


No, you don't get 'shepherd's crook' drooping with that - fireblight, which these plants are prone to, gives the appearance that parts, or all, of the plant have been burnt - the leaves go brown and crispy, the wood may go orangy brown, etc. What shepherds crook drooping is indicative of is fungal infection, usually phytophthera and usually at the roots, which is, frankly, just as bad as fireblight in that the plant usually dies. Cut back all affected parts and hope it survives - if it doesn't dig it out next year and don't replant the area with hard wood shrubs for a year or so, use soft stemmed bushes or annuals instead. If that area is particularly wet, or the drainage is poor, try to improve that situation before replanting a new shrub or tree.

27 Oct, 2011


Dear Bamboo,

Thank you for your most informative answer. It would appear from this that part of one (mature) has/is suffered/suffering with fireblight. We have had a particularly dry year in Leicestershire, could this have been part of the cause? Also, is it possible for only a part (say up to half) of the plant to be affected whilst the remainder appears to be healthy? As mentioned before, I have cut away the "dead" wood" and disposed of it.

28 Oct, 2011


Usually it affects part of the plant and gradually, over a time, the whole thing dies. But if you're sure its fireblight, you ought to remove it instanta - it will spread to the others if you do not. And bear in mind that fireblight infection means you cannot plant anything else from the Rosaceae family of plants - its a big group, including Photinia, Roses, Pyracantha, anything in the Prunus group, including flowering cherries and cherry laurels, plus others. If its phytophthera, then there isn't a blanket ban on any group of plants, just a problem with the soil where the plant has been.

28 Oct, 2011

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