Lilac leaves brown and dying

brendave(z5 MI)July 29, 2006

Hi everyone,

My Tinkerbelle lilac is experiencing die back, a few branches at a time. I have googled to see if I can find any pics that look like what it has but no luck.

The leaves feel dry and powdery but are brown. There are unaffected branches next to dead and dying branches. I noticed the same thing happening to my dogwood shrub in the back yard, about 200 feet from the lilac.

Does anyone have any ideas what this could be?


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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

brendave - GW actually allows HTML code with the "img src". I posted your pic below:

How long have the shrubs been planted? Sometimes there is a root problem where the root system can't support the top and the shrub ends up "self-pruning" by killing back branches. Once the problem is resolved, the types that tend to sucker will often recover and send up new growth from the roots and the remaining branches.

Alternately, there may be a disease that impacts the roots like phytophera. That disease can impact dogwoods as well, although I believe it is a slightly different organism from that found among lilacs (but giving the same result).

You could try pruning out the branches with brown leaves back well below where they begin and see what happens and if possible, you may want to save some to take to your local county extension office to see if they can positively ID what's going on.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lilac diseases

    Bookmark   July 29, 2006 at 1:33PM
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brendave(z5 MI)

Thanks for posting the pic for me and for the link. I can't get the link to work, though. I guess I am missing something though because none of the descriptions of diseases sound or look like what is happening to this lilac.

The shrub has been in that spot for 4 years now. I noticed one branch this May that died off after the flowers had bloomed so I cut that back. It has never done this before.

Has anyone else ever had a problem like this with their lilacs? Help please!

    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 12:29AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

is that a sprinkler head at the base of the plant????

could you be blasting the heck out of it.. day in and day out???


    Bookmark   July 30, 2006 at 8:31AM
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brendave(z5 MI)

Yes, it is a sprinkler head. No, not watering it to death. Sprinklers only go off every 3 days for 3 minutes. Maybe not enough water? I really don't think so though. It looks and feels like there is something on the leaves. I was hoping someone had a similar problem or had seen something like this.

    Bookmark   August 3, 2006 at 4:13PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

If the sprinklers are only going for 3 minutes, that's definitely not enough water - especially when it was hot as hades! They need a good long soaking for about 20 - 30 minutes (depending on the drainage and whether puddling occurs before then). If the water is actually splashing on the leaves too, then they might be getting a fungus splashing up on them.

And as a sidenote, which could be an issue too based on how the weather has been the past month, they can fry in place if the roots can't get water up to the leaves during blazing hot days. Mine are starting to crisp up now. Sigh.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 3:22PM
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