What is wrong with my Black Lace plant?

joycewwctMay 11, 2009

What is wrong with my Black Lace plant (Sambucus). I just noticed today that many of the leaves are drooping down and looking dead while the rest look just fine. This is its third year or fourth year and I never saw that before. I wondered whether it was from wind gusts whipping leaves about yesterday, but I think I noticed something from a distance earlier.

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Dan Staley

Might be some sort of cane borer, a wilt, some other vascular pathogen. Not much information given, so those are my guesses.

Dan

    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 6:55PM
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ostrich(3a AB)

I had a few of those leaves on my Sambucus Black Lace too. What I noticed was that these occurred after a windstorm. I think that somehow the windstorm damaged some of the tender new growth, and then they just got droopy like that. Did you have any windstorm recently?

    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 9:06PM
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joycewwct

Thanks Ostrich. It was very windy yesterday with enough gusts to knock out electricity. I was wondering whether that could affect the new growth. I hope you are correct.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2009 at 10:17PM
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hlollar(5 CO)

I'm wondering why my Black Lace hasn't gotten larger in the three years I've had it planted! Full sun, plenty of room to grow...and it gets no bigger than 3x2. I bought it for it's full size (6x6). I love the plant, but the size has been disappointing. It completely dies back every year with the growth on new canes. I'm actually hoping for flowers this year because I didn't chop anything down this spring. I'm just dealing with the fact it looks leggy...

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 7:45AM
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ostrich(3a AB)

hlollar, I have the exact opposite experience! My Black Lace is UNBELIEVABLE - after 2 years, it started to grow like crazy last year. It started off as a 2 feet tall little thing last spring, but by fall, it was over 6 feet tall! I yanked out the entire thing, damaged the roots severely and transplanted it to another location in my bed. I was so worried that I had killed it, esp. with the extreme winter that we just had here in NE Ohio... but I was so very WRONG! The new leaves are coming out of the old canes beautifully again! I just love this thing!

Now, the difference maybe that I am in zone 5b/6a and you're in a colder zone 5? Make sure that you have enough water for this beauty because it does like water.

BTW, if it's only 3 x 2, I can easily use it for something else!!! I think that it would look so dainty and delicate as a small shrub like that! :-)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 10:23PM
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hlollar(5 CO)

ostrich - LOL. alright, alright. I'll give it some more time. It's actually planted right in my drainage zone, so it should be getting enough water during the summer. Maybe this is the year it thrives. I have it planted about three feet from my Tiger Eyes sumac (I love the chartreuse and purple combos) so I don't want to move it. I was thinking my huge hollyhocks might have been the problem because they are planted in front of it, but it IS higher than them right now, so it should be getting plenty of sun! I've alway heard that Elder's are beasts (Golden Elder is a beast in a half) so...we'll see what happens this year. Thanks for your input, you've given me hope!! :)

    Bookmark   May 15, 2009 at 8:45AM
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wigardenerwannabe(Z5 WI)

I am now on my 3rd year for this bush and have yet to see it blossom. I also had a leggy bush last year and our snow fall crushed all the branches so they had a significant sag in them which then killed the branches. (I also suspect that our local bunnies went at the bark.) So, I cut it all back to the ground again this year and it is sprouting lots of new growth, but I'm beginning to think this isn't the bush I was hoping for.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 7:59PM
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joycewwct

I think I pinched off all those drooping dying leaves when I posted this. The bush now has some more. But it is growing well and looking healthy otherwise. So I am still bewildered.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 9:40PM
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ostrich(3a AB)

joycewwct, guess what? I have noticed a few more of those droopy leaves too, even in the absence of strong wind storms. So I think that my previous theory of wind damage was WRONG! Sorry!

Anyway, just like your plant, mine is growing healthily otherwise, so I am just going to ignore it and see what happens next! :-)

    Bookmark   May 26, 2009 at 11:02PM
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chrsvic(z6 OH)

I agree that the wilting may be due to cane borer or similar. i would prune out, and if permitted, burn the stems.

Sambucus is so vigorous that the borers usually can't do much damage. I think a similar question to this one came up before.

My black lace is blooming, maybe i'll take a photo and post.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2009 at 1:23PM
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paulasfarm

I bought a black lace sambucus 2 years ago at the NEX in Virginia Beach, it had the same symptoms, at first I thought it was jet fuel residue - I have found quite a bit of this on plants bought near Navy Air Stations - but when I brought it home, cleaned it off and planted it, it never recovered, even the following season (and now 2 years later) it puts out shoots and then they wilt and die. I bought another one this year at a local garden center and it is doing the same thing. My property is a retired tobacco farm and there are many diseases in the soil including phytopthera, verticillium and botrytis, and the symptoms look very much like what happens to my peonies, which I believe suffer from the same diseases as the tobacco. My local Cooperative Extension has taken many soil, root and leaf samples - many times taking the whole peony plant, and I have never gotten a diagnosis. At one time I wanted to plant peonies for professional cut flowers, but have given up on that dream due to the disease. Any way, I belive whatever it is affecting my peonies is the same thing killing my black lace sambucus.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 4:09PM
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prairiegirlz5

That is so discouraging, I would've bet a former farm would have been fertile, never giving much thought to the soil issues. Maybe growing a cover crop would help fix the soil?

Black Lace has been a big disappointment here too. Now just two small stems in a pot, cost: ten bucks.

Is it normally propagated through tissue culture?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 10:36PM
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seamew141

Go to my blog, http://gardendaze.wordpress.com and look at the entry for June 19. You'll be able to see the pictures I took of my Black Lace and the borer holes in the stem. That was a follow-up to a post I had done in late May called 'What's Wrong with my Black Lace?' where I talked about my Black Lace wilting and discussed all the possible options (but not borers, interestingly enough).

Apparently a little know fact is that sambucus (the whole genus) is susceptible to borers. Proven Winners recommends a hard pruning to get rid of them.

And yes, it is a ridiculously slow plant to start--you'll see that if you read my earlier post. I think mine took 5 years to do anything--but now it's huge!

It does like water though so waterlogging should not be an issue!

Good luck all!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Gardendaze (blog)

    Bookmark   July 22, 2010 at 1:50PM
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himo

I too see these wilted leaves on occasion after bad storms, but they do not seem to harm the entire plant.
I have 8 plants growing (Chicago north suburb). Some as a hedge and 2 as individual specimens. This is their third year and the individual plants are more than 8 foot tall. All of them blossomed profusely this spring and now the flowers are finished, I'm left with zilch. Not a berry in sight. There are differing opinions whether this is a self fertilizing elderberry, but my limited experience is no.
For those who actually get fruit, do you have cross fertilizers nearby?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2011 at 11:52AM
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bfrederick

The same thing happens to my black lace off and on as well. However, once they fall off the plant just replaces them doubly seemingly in the same place. It has not harmed the overall health of the plant. I would figure if it was borers then that hole stem would die and it wouldn't just push out new leaves a few days later in the same spot. Maybe it is something else? I have also found it slow to establish, but after year 3 it is growing exponentially.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 12:57PM
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trvl255

My Black Lace (second summer) just started to die back last week of September. Is that normal? They are not wilting like the post above, but I believe September is too early from what I remember last fall? She also did not have a lot of folliage this year. Although, she flowered really well in the spring. Has anyone had this happen and it returned the next year?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2014 at 1:22PM
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