Who Shot Up My Shrubs?

November 30, 2016 | By | Comments (4)
richardbuckley phixr Who Shot Up My Shrubs?

Photo: Richard Buckley

Faithful reader, Lisa, writes, “I have a hedge of cherry laurels that is looking quite ill. The malady started as holes in the leaves, then the leaves turned yellowish, and now they are falling off. The whole thing is getting bare and pitiful looking. Is it a buggy infestation or something else?”

Grumpy’s 127% Guaranteed Correct Answer: Unless your next door neighbor has gotten bored with shooting up stop signs and turned his attention to your bushes, the malady is a bacterial leaf spot that causes a condition called “shot hole.” All kinds of cherry laurel are susceptible. Wet weather favors this disease. It first shows up as rounded, reddish-brown spots with dark purple margins. Then the leaf tissue in the centers of the spots dies and drops out, leaving holes that look like they came from a shotgun.

Fortunately, shot holes are a lot easier for a cherry laurel to recover from than a person. The first thing to do is rake up and dispose of all infected cherry laurel leaves that have fallen to the ground. Second, avoid overhead watering with sprinklers, as this helps to spread the bacteria. Finally, spray your plants according to label directions with a fungicide called Bonide Mancozeb. You can get this at garden centers or from amazon.com.



  1. Beth Goll

    Dear Grumpy,
    Two questions about my Magnolia tress (I have 1 in front & 1 in back).
    First, we have been in SE NC for almost 3 years & the Magnolias have never produced flowers? Second, both trees but especially one in back has alot of leaves which are spotted & have holes & then turn yellow, any suggestion? Thanks…love your column!!

    April 13, 2017 at 1:48 pm
  2. Laurie

    I am blessed to live in the Florida Keys and surrounded by the most vibrant colored bougainvillea plants, both tended with care in yards or just as beautiful without care in vacant lots…
    However my husband and I cannot seem to grow them. We have two in large pots, planted in soil specifically recommended for bougainvillea plants. Planted with a trellis on our back balcony which faces West. Both have seemed to totally turn brown in the leaves then die to just empty branches, then weeks later start to grow leaves again. Repeat.
    We also have several bougainvillea plants planted in the front yard, again with the suggested soil, but they seem to thrive then just turn brown and the plant looks dead, only to then come back in small ways. The front ones face East.
    Any suggestions?
    Laurie in Duck Key 🐬🌴🌞

    March 10, 2017 at 12:26 pm
  3. Cindy Keller

    We lost our cherry laurels this way. They looked a sight with the holes all “drilled” in the leaves. We were completely devastated. Wish I knew about Bonide Mancozeb then.

    February 15, 2017 at 2:54 pm
  4. Sandra Hester

    Grumpy, what is your opinion on tree spiking for pest control. I notice that you recommend Bayer Tree and Shrub Control. Despite liberal applications, I still see scale on two of my crepe myrtles.

    December 29, 2016 at 7:33 pm

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