Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:59 am
Location: St. Louis, MO

Transplanted lilac leaves fell off and looks dead

I transplanted a thriving little lilac shoot from Seattle, WA to my new yard in St. Louis, MO. Since the soil is clay in St. Louis, I was careful to amend the soil and followed the process for planting recommended by websites. The plant is a shoot from a rare, deep purple (almost black) lilac. It looked great in Seattle and also in St. Louis until a couple of weeks ago. The leaves turned brown and fell off - all of the leaves. All of the posts on this site and the websites I have researched say brown leaves mean the plant needs water. However, we have experienced so much rain in St. Louis that I think I am living in Seattle again - so much that we have made the news for storms and floods.

I am wondering if the plant is suffering from too much rain. I have another shoot from the same lilac planted a few feet away. It still looks good but it is planted a little higher than the one with no leaves. The other difference is that I ordered some mulch and the guys dumped a pile of mulch near the plant with no leaves. (I have not checked the branches to see if there is any green under the bark. I am afraid to look.) I am wondering if the roots have stayed too wet.

My question is: should I move the plant now (June 27) to higher elevation or wait until it gets cooler? Should I just wait to see if it will recover?

One other detail - a new Kousa dogwood tree from a nursery also looked good until a couple of weeks ago. The same thing happened to it. The leaves were green and then they curled up and turned brown. I have looked at both plants - no sign of insects or diseases.

Thanks for any ideas!

Greener Thumb
Posts: 815
Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2009 12:31 pm
Location: Hurst, TX USA Zone 7b/8a

Root rot symptoms are normally similar to those of lack of moisture because, as far as the growth above ground is concerned (ex: leaves), it is not getting enough moisture from the roots. So maybe the soil has been wet for too long due to the constant rains and that triggered root rot.

Moving it to another spot now may give you the chance to check the condition of the roots and verify if they look ok or not. If they do not, you can try cutting off the diseased ones and hope that the plant can recover in its new spot. But it can add transplant shock to the list f things stressing out the plant. With no leaves on the plant, moving it later may result in the shrub dieing before coolers temperatures arrive.

Bottom line: It is difficult to assess the problem via the Internet. It sounds like really need some local to view the condition of the plant roots/soil and help you decide. Can you call your Agriculture Extension Service and see if they can recommend an employee or Master Gardener (familiar with plant diseases) to help?


PS - before the leaves dropped, did you see signs of powdery mildew? PM is initially colorless and the fungi becomes visible when its color changes to yellow/brown/black. Heavily infected leaves can drop prematurely but the tree can survive (not sure about a little shoot though).

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