London (change)
18 messages
10/04/2012 at 21:41

I am wondering whether to give up on this Choisya ternata.  It was bought 3 years ago and after the first year there was no growth and something was eating the leaves.  Dug it up a few days ago and there is hardly anything left of the roots at all.  Also the leaves look as if they are being eaten but I haven't seen anything 'living' on it at all.  Had decided to throw it in the garden collection bin but wanted to try again.  Have now removed it from the garden and put into a pot - but even more holes are now appearing in the leaves.  But - it looks like a few new leaves on top are coming out.  It has not grown at all compared to the other Choisya I bought at the same time which is now about 3 foot high - doesn't flower though.  Does anyone think I am fighting a losing battle with the one on the photo or give me any advice?  Would be really grateful.  Thank you.

11/04/2012 at 00:48

could it be vine weevil>adults eating the leaves and the grubs eating the roots?i treated some of my shrubs and plants with a systemic vine weevil killer and my problem seemed cured, plants recovered well, it needs to be done every so often and kill any adults you find..they particularly like plants in pots

11/04/2012 at 04:43

pls don't give up...

11/04/2012 at 09:25

rosie plum and Amy0824.  Thanks so much for responding.  I don't want to give it up Amy so will take rosie plum's advice.  I suspect it must be vine weevil and take the point about the pots.  There seemed to be no evidence of anything around the remains of the roots when I replanted it into the pot but I'm sure those nasty weevil's seek out what they want very easily.  I've also moved it from the back garden to the front hoping a different environment with little in the surrounding soil would work.  I will get some 'vine weevil killer' and see what happens over the next few months. 

Many thanks.

11/04/2012 at 11:15

great stuff, i found no real evidence either..iv rarely seen the grbs and i suspect that a lot of the vine weevil ive accidently imported from garden centres where the pots have been lying around...the yellow balls in the compost can be the eggs a lot of the time, not slow release fertiliser, if you squash them and they crack like an egg leaving a shell then they are the eggs, but the killer which you simple dilute and water on is great, it may seem a wee bit expensive but what you potentially lose on infested plants makes it well wothwhle...good luck!!!

    11/04/2012 at 11:37

As Rosie says, the killer, a predatory nematode, works really well on vine weevils.

Emma team.

11/04/2012 at 19:01

Many thanks rosie plum and Emma.  I'm sure investing in vine weevil killer will be a worthwhile spend.  Rosie - I have fallen for the yellow balls not being slow release fertiliser before and will attempt to be vigilant with what I spot, particularly in pots.  I've been digging up the area where the failing Choisya was and have sadly noticed that not a single tulip has come up this year and that other plants in the same bed are failing.   I'm thinking it might be worthwhile putting in a few hours digging up the soil and probably removing a lot of it.  (It's a very small garden and this slim section of a side border is only about 8 foot long  x 2 foot wide).  However, last autumn I had dug-in manure and in Feb this year I added leafmould.  The soil mix looks lovely and dark and is fairly light textured after thorough digging.  But with an overall small-sized garden I don't want to lose this area of it if there's an infestation in the soil.  I can't see anything obvious in there which is working away but will be contemplating what to do over the next week or so.  Thanks so much for giving advice.  This is only my third year gardening and it's a steep but joyful learning curve!

11/04/2012 at 19:27

try watering the vine weevil potion onto any plants already there, as removing the soil now is not likely to help much, rather like locking the stable door after the horse has bolted, in my own experience any plants not too badly eaten were all fine after persevere but get it down quickly as iv spotted adult weevil in my garden already, i found mature plants to be largely unaffected by the weevil, and there are plenty of other critters, quite often a combination of them attacking our plants!!!let us know how you get on wont you??

    12/04/2012 at 15:00

A note of caution - the soil temperature should be above 5 degrees centigrade when using these nematodes, it's not worth doing it in low temperatures as it won't work and will be a waste.

Emma team

12/04/2012 at 16:20

Hi yarrow2,

The leaf damage doesn't look like vine weevil, as these bugs tend to chew into the leaf from the edge, rather than making holes. This is not to say that there aren't weevil larvae in the soil. Your plant doesn't look particularly robust and I suspect that it hasn't been growing in ideal conditions, making it much more susceptible to pests. Look out for caterpillars and slugs on those new shoots and put the plant in a warm, sunny spot and hopefully, it will produce some healthy new growth.

    12/04/2012 at 16:31

Hello Borassus,

It's the damage to the roots that points to vine weevil, not caused by the adults, although I agree that the leaf damage could be in another category!

Emma team

12/04/2012 at 18:57

rosie plum, Borassum and Emma

Many thanks for your responses.

Borassus - I thank you for your politeness in describing this plant as not looking particularly robust!.  I do agree that the plant was not in ideal conditions. The soil appeared fairly good at time of planting (pH 6-7) but the positioning was semi-shade for part of the day and north-facing.  However, although the plant bed was situated north-facing,  this is a town garden surrounded by tall buildings and the sun from 11.30am-8pm mid-summer can be extremely warm) and the plant was open to the sunshine during these hours.   It has not grown at all in the past 3 years but it's neighbours (astilbe, pieris, aucuba, bay laurel) all planted at the same time, have thrived.  I only began tackling the garden 3 years ago so I am sure that my beginner experience is responsible for this failure in not knowing how to respond, certainly not in a timely fashion, to seeing a plant in distress. 

I also agree with Emma about the vine weevil in that the disappearance of the roots has been severe.  It is no exaggeration to say that all that is left is one 1cm thick main root about 6cm long and a series of extremely delicate looking hair-like attachments - which makes it astonishing to me that there are signs of new leaf growth now.  The original roots have most definitely gone.  There is so little there that it would have been easy to spot any 'can be seen with the naked eye' type pests and it's probable that there has been considerable eating going on over a long period of time.  I ought to have cottoned on to the possibility much earlier. 

It is now in a warm sunny spot  and I will nurse it over the summer months and hope to see some revitalisation.  I'm assuming that it does take even a healthy Choisya a few years to give bushy growth and height?  It would be informative to know how much growth a good healthy plant would be expected to produce in a year.

Thank you again for your appreciated responses.  It's very helpful, encouraging and a good learning experience.

12/04/2012 at 18:58

Borassus - apologies for naming you Borassum.  Typo.

12/04/2012 at 19:08

Sorry to be so lengthy and to return again.  For clarity, the 4 neighbouring plants mentioned in my above post thrive - but the others Phygelius and can't remember the names of another 2, all had very little left of the roots and similar leaf damage as in the original photograph.  About 40 bulbs which were beautiful last year - have not appeared but I wouldn't know if this is relative to the Choisya culprits.

12/04/2012 at 19:18

what were the bulbs??some bulbs can rot over the winter if the ground is not free draining, also if you cut back the foilage too soon after flowering the leaves may not have bulked up enough, i have found slugs have eaten some of my bulbs too ....i generally move anything that isnt thriving after a good stint of trying things like a good mulch and pruning as required..

17/07/2012 at 13:09

I had one which didn't like my heavy soil - it didn't grow at all and looked very sad. I dug it up and put it in a nice pot in full sun,  and have been feeding it regular. It looks amazing now, so hoping for some flowers next year.

17/07/2012 at 13:20

Janice:  Thanks for your comment here.  I'd forgotten all about the choisya and this thread - I binned it about a month after my last post back in April.  It was becoming disappointing effort.

I have heavy clay soil but i'd improved it over 3 years - with little luck.  The choisya I have left is growing upward but not out and every beast in town seems to now be having a chew.   I might as well do what you have done - opt for the tub.  Can I ask Janice what you feed yours with?   I'd like to use something that has worked for someone else.

Many thanks - and glad you came onto this thread just now and made me think about the choisya issues again.


31/01/2013 at 15:43
I have a two year old choisya ternata hedge which is being eaten by something. It's leaving bare stalks at the top of the plants. Any ideas? Would post a picture if I knew how.
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