Friday 13 February 2015

Sudden leaf fall on evergreens

Clean sweep, it’s just completely  normal

Evergreen leaves on shrubs and trees do not last forever. They are destined to die and often there will be an annual leaf fall. A classic example is the holly when suddenly you have a carpet of brown leaves on your lawn. In most cases of evergreen leaf fall, only a proportion of the leaves drop on a single occasion. There is nothing to worry about. It’s just old age and is called senescence. Now in my dotage, I too sometimes feel senile. 
Usually leaf  fall is accompanied and followed by a flush of fresh new growth. Wish the same worked for me.

No doubt that my cedar is thriving, it has grown an extra five metres in ten years.

A fairly extreme example of evergreen Spring leaf fall is my Cedrus atlantica glauca. In April it suddenly looks somewhat sick and most of the leaves become yellow and brown and fall to the ground. If I were a beginner I would be extremely concerned. Within just a few days it starts a strong soft green transformation.

Leaves failing to fall on deciduous trees
Leaves on deciduous trees usually fall to the ground in Autumn. Not all, juvenile beech holds its leaves overwinter and becomes very untidy when leaves fall in Spring.
I feature today Hamamelis ‘Arnold Promise’  to which Autumn leaves stick like glue right through Winter and if not manually removed ruin the flowers

Beautiful Autumn colour after several weeks turns brown and without physical removal will hide the best of the flowers

I remembered to pluck all of 200 dead leaves last Autumn. Fortunately for blog illustration I missed these! 
nb ‘Arnold Promise’ is the only common variety to suffer.

Thats better!
Leaf fall on my calomondin orange

As I have previously reported our calomondin orange which has held its fruit through most of the Summer is brought in from outside into our warm light conservatory around the beginning of December.
Its leaves are looking rather tired after a hard working life. Many of the leaves start to yellow. After just a few weeks in the warmth of our conservatory the first of the flowers that will give next years fruit are starting to appear and new leaf growth is awakening. The yellowing leaves are destined to fall, usually gradually and need to be swept up over a protracted period.
I  had a lucky ‘accident’ this January when I inadvertently allowed the pot to become too dry. By the time I had noticed and given the plant a thorough soaking, the yellow leaves with the help of a shake cascaded down. Eureka, the plant shouted hurrah, and accelerated into new healthy growth. I have never seen my plant looking healthier! I suspect I will have another accident next year.

All in one go?

The other conservatory plants are not quite so cooperative. Can you identify the debris?

Most of the senescent yellow leaves have gone and new leaf growth is strong.
nb the plant had a 60gm top dressing of YaraMila fertiliser in December


  1. Definitely clivia debris :) Are the pink petals from bougainvillea?

  2. Aah, Sue has answered already on the debris. My lemon is also losing lots of leaves, and yes after reading your post I think I kept it too dry in winter. But new growth always is following. I have a love-hate relationship with my holly, it continues dropping leaves from spring till August all on the terrace.

    1. Yes it's annoying Janneke when you get repeated leaf fall. I have not noticed that as much of a problem on my hollies - probably because my border surfaces are rather scruffy anyway and away from the house.
      Now beech hedges - they can go on forever losing overwintered leaves!

  3. I have a Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca' which constantly drops its needles which then tend to get trodden in to the hallway as it is right next to the front gate. It had a form of die-back on one side this spring which has not been successfully explained, this, along with a severe pruning, has produced a veritable mat of debris.

    1. Brenda makes me take my wellies off before I come in. As I never box off my mowings it's just as well!

  4. I discovered the under watering wheeze this year, also by accident. Perhaps it replicates the weather they would experience in 'the wild'?

    1. I suspect quite a few evergreens tend to drop some leaves in the dry season. Indeed in the tropics some trees have evolved to be deciduous because of the dry season.


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