So I'm not sure of the species of this shrub but as you can see in the images a good portion of it has become brown and appears dead. Do I prune off the brown parts or do I leave it and hope they come back? I'm just concerned the shrub will die and admittedly do not possess the best green thumb so seeking advice from someone more knowledgeable.

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  • Have to have some pictures. Once plant material dies it will not be coming back alive ever. Dead material will eventually abscise from the plant but you actually help a plant by pruning leaves, branches that do not support their own maintenance. The plant will use energy to cut off the 'dead' weight. What I am worried about is WHY these leaves have died and to what extent. A few dead leaves is totally normal but this may be something that tells us the entire plant needs to be pulled for the health of its neighbors. Please send pictures of up close and of the entire plant and community. – stormy May 12 '17 at 20:02
  • @stormy Ya I just got an image added, they apparently didn't upload from the mobile app but there should be one there now. I did know enough that a plant will try to supply too many resources to dead parts to potentially keep itself alive. I look forward to your response as to whether I should pull it. The shrubs of the same type next to it are completely healthy so that would be good to know! Thank you! – Chris W. May 12 '17 at 20:06
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    Since it's low-growing and the dead branch is at the edge of the plant, a likely option is that somebody's cat or dog killed it by repeatedly peeing on it. The rest of the plant looks healthy enough - just cut off the dead stuff, and don't worry. – alephzero May 12 '17 at 21:02

Well, that was quick! Definitely cut the dead material out. Is this ONE plant that has died or is this a branch of the whole? I am guessing this is Taxus densiflora or Taxus c. repandens. A yew. The only conifer that thrives in shade. Very toxic, especially the berries just don't allow kiddies or doggies to eat it. Wonderful plant. When did you plant this guy? Cut that dead stuff out for sure. If anymore of that plant starts to turn brown let us know as that could indicate a larger problem. Otherwise it could just be a compromised branch that was broken or bent when planted or someone stepped on this guy.

Take a picture of that branch by pulling the foliage away so we are able to see where the dead starts and the live part ends. Use alcohol on your pruners before and after just in case this is a disease, you don't want to spread the disease nor do you want to inject a disease.

  • It's one of five in a row. The others are healthy and it's now just getting nice enough in my area (midwest) that I'm just now getting out and doing the spring pruning/mulching/etc and noticed it. The plant doesn't produce any berries. The damaged branch idea might be a winner as I could have maybe stepped on it while moving a ladder around putting up christmas lights this last winter. I already just cut off the dead branch but I do spray the shears with alcohol (I did pick up that tip before at least lol!) – Chris W. May 12 '17 at 20:17
  • Wonderful...not many people understand the alcohol thing. Do you have by pass pruners? Anvil type is not a good type of pruner as it smashes the vascular system versus clean sharp cuts. Felco is the best! You can actually purchase a new blade instead of buying another pruner. In this world of planned obsolescence that is rare. Super plants for your foundation in alkaline soils caused by the concrete. Did you know these guys can live 2000 years? The record is 5000 years! Do you know the species and variety? Left more rambling the repandens is prettier than a hard edged hedge... – stormy May 12 '17 at 20:44
  • The shears I used were just common store bought hand shears from home depot. I would have to check the brand but they seem to cut clean just fine. Those particular shrubs I planted several years ago with the hope they would have filled out more by now (as I was told they would when I bought them) so if it turns out they're ill than I'll likely pull all five and perhaps replace them with (I think they're called) baby's breath or baby's sparkles for some flowers there instead of shrubs. Admittedly like I said I'm a bachelor without a green thumb so I would prefer low maintenance. – Chris W. May 12 '17 at 20:51
  • What the heck are you saying? Why pull them out? Baby's breath is lovely and could be done right now WITH these guys right where they are. But not replace these yews, no way. Have you fertilized at all? Go get some OSMOCOTE 14-14-14 and throw that on the soil around these yews...follow directions but once or twice per year and they will grow just fine and get a lot greener than they look now. Go ahead and plant a few perennial flowers to pop up among these plants for interest, color. Then they die back and perennials will come back but annuals (baby's breath) might reseed. – stormy May 12 '17 at 21:03
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    Yew isn't very quick growing - not until they are 50 or 100 years old, anyway - but there is one in the UK, known to be 350 years old (i.e. still a baby, by yew standards) where the top growth is now about 60 yards in diameter! See i.telegraph.co.uk/multimedia/archive/01406/Yew_1406300c.jpg (that "hedge" is just one tree). – alephzero May 12 '17 at 21:12

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