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Plant Diseases/golden euonymus


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Live in Maryland.  See attached pics. I planted a row of golden euonymus 3 years ago, expecting them to grow into a hedge. Instead, they have not grown one bit. I'm told normally these are fast growers. In a couple of plants, they seem to be partially dead, but the majority looks exactly like when I planted them 3 years ago.

Why is this? People keep telling me deer love these, however in 8 yrs I have seen deer in my front yard only once, and besides there are always plenty of leaves and I see no holes or partially eaten leaves. I don't feel deer is the problem.  The leaves that are there look healthy and clean.  And they are getting plenty of sun.  I just can't figure out why they aren't growing as advertised!



ANSWER: Dear Manish, These are pretty bad looking euonymus.  While under good conditions, these golden euonymus can be fast growers and be very attractive shrubs, unfortunately that is not often the case.  Euonymus are among the most disease and insect prone shrubs, and that is why I nicknamed them "You-Own-A-Mess".  Among other things, they are very susceptible to scale which causes bumps on the stems or leaves, powdery mildew which causes a filmy white, then black covering over the leaves, and cercospora which causes brown to black spots on the leaves.  You actually seem to have none of these ailments, but what I do believe you have is a problem called crown gall.  Crown gall can cause small hard growths on the plant, usually on the base, stem, and roots.  Much or all of the problem can only be seen under the soil surface.  The reason I think that this is the problem is that it seems that your plants are growing slowly and appear to be weak.  It also causes yellowing, which is hard to detect in a yellow leafed plant, but they do seem to be extra pale.  Plus you have some extremely sparse growth on some limbs, and your leaves appear undersized for the most part.  The big problem is that this disease is incurable.  You can prune off badly affected areas, and destroy the almost gone ones, and you can probably keep the remainder for a while, but it would destroy the "hedge" concept.  I definitely wouldn't replant euonymus, for several reasons, mostly because they are so much trouble, but really because the soil will still be contaminated from this for a few years.  I would honestly pull them up and replant with anything except euonymus that is consistent with your zone and likes full sun.  Oh one other thing, you might want to plant the new shrubs just an inch or two higher than these bushes.  Your garden area might have the tendency to retain extra moisture and that is hard on most plants as they need to be able to dry out.  I hope this information helps.  Sorry for the bad news.  If you have any more questions, or would like some information on plants you are considering as replacements, feel free to write back.  Good luck, Melissa

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: wow.  sounds like you know alot!  Thanks so much.

So you suggest taking them out and throwing them away?  Or do you think they might thrive in a different location?  You mentioned excess moisture, do you think it would help if I turned down the water on the sprinkler system?

What's weird is that most of them aren't dying, they just look the same as I planted them for the last 2+ years.  The one bad pic is the worst case of the lot.

If I replace, any recommendations an alternative?  I want to create a bright yellow hedge along the driveway border.


Dear Manish, You know you could just take out the one spindly plant, replace it with a 3 gallon (size standard) golden euonymus, maybe reduce the watering a bit, and just go ahead with what you have.  You know that they probably won't grow much if any, but they could hang on and look fine for several years.  You could wait until they were obviously a problem to go through replacing them.  Just replacing the one, maybe adding some fertilizer, and leaving it alone would definitely be the cheapest way to go.  I really doubt that they are going to do better in another location.  Bright yellow year round is actually very tough, but there are some bright junipers and barberry.  Yellow spireas, and many yellow bloomers, but not too many yellow leafed bushes.  Good luck, Melissa

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Melissa Johnston


Plant diseases, landscaping, tropical plants, roses, herbs, plant care, grafting, horticulture, plant identification, anything about plants I can likely answer.


35 years experience in various plant businesses, 1984 Certified Texas Master Gardener.

Master Gardener Association of Texas charter member

none as of yet, but I have a plant q&a book I am in process of submitting.

Magna cum laude graduate of Texas A&M, 1978

Awards and Honors
Plant growing awards, highest grade for Texas Master Gardener graduates.

Past/Present Clients
Past member of and was very highly rated. Owned landscape company in the past, Almost Paradise, and was very successful despite little equipment, no help, and no advertising. Lived well for two years until 9/11.

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