Mystery SOLVED – Privet Hedge Dying for No Apparent Reason
- Fantastic Team
- Published: May 21, 2018
- 6min read
- Views: 33,659
You have a beautiful hedge that has lasted for almost half a decade now. However, you are noticing that certain parts of the privet row have started to wilt for no apparent reason.
The leaves of the privet hedge are turning yellow at first, then purple or even black. The decay has started from one side and it is now slowly spreading across the entire length of the hedge… Ligustrum spp. or privet is thought to be really hardy and often survive for years on end without much maintenance. Is this a problem caused by the way in which you took care of your plant, or is it some uncommon disease? Can you do anything to save it?
If you are:
Then this article is for you!
The general symptoms of this privet hedge’s disease include:
The offender here does not always make itself known, although in many cases they do have a distinctive trait – the black “bootlaces” under the bark of the plant. Based on the symptoms, the reason for your privet hedge to be dying is:
A common privet killer – Honey Fungus (Armillaria) – a fungal disease that spreads through the soil. Very destructive in nature, it feeds on the roots of the hedge and leaves them decaying afterwards. Privet (Ligustrum) in particular is highly susceptible to Honey Fungus. The fungi themselves tend to target weak or old plants. The older the plant is, the longer it takes to kill it.
Avoiding damp soil conditions when watering and providing adequate drainage will significantly lower the chances for the fungus to thrive. Poor ventilation should also not be underestimated as it can also exacerbate your fungus problem. In fact, this particular species is to blame for 90% of the privet hedge root rot problems.
Note that it is not necessary for the typical black “bootlaces” to be visible or even present, for that matter. When you are unsure of what you’re dealing with, a smart move is to take a sample of the infected plant and have it tested at a local laboratory.
As these fungi have the ability to vigorously spread underground, there is not much that can be done for the infected plants. Your hedge is already irreversibly ill and all diseased parts should be removed and, preferably, burned. However, you can still save the rest of the unaffected plants. Here’s how to treat honey fungus affected plants and areas:
And now, some clarifications…
Truth be told, there’s no commercially available treatment for honey fungus.
Or at least it is not branded as such.
More than 10 years ago, Armillatox was available as a fungi killer. Its design and name (honey fungus – Armillaria, therefore “Armillatox”) were created for the sole purpose of killing off the fungi. But then the EU banned most acid and tar oil-based pesticides.
The product is now rebranded as a soap-based patio cleaner, but its formula remains the same and just as effective. The same can be said for Jeyes Fluid. Nowadays, an Armillatox or a Jeyes Fluid honey fungus treatment can still be executed – look the products up in your local DIY and hardware stores. When you apply either of these, make sure to avoid direct contact with any part of the plants that are above the ground. Apply to soil only, at a 20:1 water to pesticide ratio.
As they were once used as pesticides, the formulation of either product is designed for killing fungi and nothing but fungi. Here’s a more detailed answer to whether Armillatox and Jeyes Fluid are really harmful to your plants:
Jeyes Fluid does not kill your plants and neither will Armillatox. Just make sure you use the right dilution rates of 20:1 in favour of water (e.g. 500ml of Jeyes in 10 litres of water). As the sterilisation occurs mainly on the soil, it’s recommended that you use a watering can to apply the solution.
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Image source: Shutterstock / By Pinkyone