We have two East Malatka Holly bushes in our flowerbed, which were only planted 5 months ago (they were in 15 gal pots, so already pretty large).
They have been doing well, until just the last week or two, when one of them has developed a large brown patch of dead leaves.
I'm in Houston, Texas, and we've had temps north of 100 degrees for the last couple of weeks. I'm not sure if this is the cause, or something else.
I'm watering about 5 times a week. These beds have a drip system. The rest of the plants seems healthy and happy so it doesn't seem like it's over or under-watering.
We've had issues in these spots, though. We've gone through two sets of pyramid boxwoods in the same spots which exhibited similar issues.
Can anyone point me to what I should do, or look for, to diagnose the issue?
LOTS OF UPDATES:
Ok, I've done more investigation and watched how it's changing over time.
Yesterday, I noticed a section of leaves just starting to turn black:
Today, it looks worse:
And I also looked on the backside of the dying leaves and see small white spots. The stem by the leaves has also turned black:
Also, in another spot I noticed a healthy branch that had a dead black branch attached to it:
Hopefully these will be enough to help diagnose. I think the small white spots and black branch must be evidence of something - I just have no knowledge in this area.
UPDATE 2: I just pruned off the dead branches. I noticed the other bush has a brown patch as well. I pruned it off and noticed the green leaves remaining on that branch had a TON of the small white things on it, with some slight cottony webbing/tent-like stuff on the leaves. It looks to me like some sort of larvae.
I was actually planning to spray the house perimeter for bugs tonight, so I've gone ahead and given the plants a good dousing with a Suspend SC suspension. We will see if that helps!
I just realized I never posted pictures of the latest discovery. Here:
And zoomed in:
The pattern appears to be that these bugs (whatever they are) appear on the backs of the leaves. The leaf begins to turn brown/black around the eggs (or whatever they are). Next the whole leaf, then the stem and turns brown/black.