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30/07/2013 at 06:48

We have an enormous ceanothus which flowered beautifully earlier this year but now, after the heat, it has gone brown and brittle. I will be devastated if it has died as it is almost a tree standing easily 10ft tall. 

There was a poison ivy growing at the base, could this have also had a effect?

30/07/2013 at 07:01

Hi Evilnanny - has it been watered at all since the dry weather started?  Flowering shrubs use quite a lot of water.  Although ceanothus don't like to be waterlogged, if you've not had one of the downpours over the past few days I'd give it a good soaking for half an hour with a hosepipe. 

As for poison ivy - not sure what you mean - do you mean British native ivy (Hedera helix) or one of the ornamental cultivars?  

The plant that Americans call Poison Ivy doesn't usually grow in the UK.  

If you mean Hedera helix 

http://apps.rhs.org.uk/plantselector/searchbynameresults?nm=Hedera+helix+&op=0 

then if that's covering the ground at the base of the ceanothus it will be depriving it of moisture and keeping the rain off so I'd remove it from around the base of the shrub. 

However, be aware that ceanothus can be a short-lived shrub and will sometimes just turn up its toes 

30/07/2013 at 07:25

One way to tell if it is still alive is to use your finger nail to scrape a very small bit of bark off a branch - if it is green underneath it will still be alive. 

30/07/2013 at 08:47

Evilnanny

It sounds like the end for your ceanothus I'm afraid.  In my experience this is typical of ceanothus by suddenly dying.  Do the usual tests to confirm dead stems lower down.

For me, rather than live with a large dying or dead ceanothus for the rest of,the summer I would have it out.  Ceanothus quickly get to 10 ' again, depending on variety , but don't plant another in that spot. 

(you could wait and hope your bush will recover, checking it every day, etc., etc., but meanwhile you could have something nice growing there instead)

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