So after living in our house for 3 years there's something going on with our shrubs. In a previous post you can see the shrubs when we moved in.

However now there are certain portions of the shrub that are not growing any more and the leaves have a white discoloration on them. (see pics) Is there any way to treat them (ideally I'd like a non-toxic solution)?enter image description here




Thanks Everyone for the posts. So here's the answers to the questions. I live in San Diego, CA so the climate is pretty mild here. The white discoloration cannot be rubbed off and the interesting thing is that there doesn't seem to be discoloration on the backside of the leaves only the side facing the sun.

I think may be the next thing to try is the fertilizer as recommended.

  • I don't the berries are correct to be a Photinia. @Bamboo now that you can see the berries, do you think it is still a Photinia. The berries of photinia come in bunches and are smaller is size. I can not tell if it is sun bleached or something is on the leaf. Does the white stuff wipe off?
    – GardenGems
    Jan 11, 2020 at 20:43
  • What part of the world are you in, Schmudu? Can you please check beneath the leaves, and all stems, to see if there's anything there that shouldn't be, like insects or little shield shaped bumps - you might need a magnifying glass for the backs of leaves
    – Bamboo
    Jan 11, 2020 at 21:39
  • @Bamboo seriously what do you think? Wouldn't you think if Photonia there would be a bunch of berries together. These come in sets of two. What do you think it could be if not Photinia? I'm not trying to discredit your original answer. Which was good for the facts it presented at the time?
    – GardenGems
    Jan 11, 2020 at 23:43
  • 1
    Can we get a close up picture of a leaf?
    – kevinskio
    Jan 12, 2020 at 0:59
  • 1
    I suspect an infestation - two possiblities, but it depends where the OP is in the world.
    – Bamboo
    Jan 12, 2020 at 23:03

2 Answers 2


If you examined the woody stems and can't find any shield shaped bumps attached to them, nor any other confirmatory evidence of scale insect, then I think this is a bad case of greenhouse thrips. The other possibility is lacebug, but the appearance of the leaves is strongly reminiscent of greenhouse (and other types of) thrips, though lacebug may be present too. If your weather was very hot this summer, greenhouse thrips would have thrived; it tends to attack mature leaves rather than new growth. It does not kill the plant (you can already see new growth at the top of branches which is unmarked) and usually, new growth is produced in spring on older stems if/when the old growth drops off, but it may be necessary to prune back to encourage new growth. Some control with oil based sprays such as neem is achievable, but monitoring during late spring and summer is a good idea to keep them in check by spraying when necessary. Further info here http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7429.html.

Keep your plants well watered during hot weather, as well as fertilising periodically during the growing season (but do not fertilize during late fall or winter).

For interest's sake, this link http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/GARDEN/PLANTS/photinia.html lists all the problems Photinia are likely to experience, though it does not describe ways of dealing with them.


This looks like a plant disease that has caused portions of the leaf to die, I suspect due to long term nutrient deficiency (nitrogen, potassium, phosphate).

Plants will sometimes sacrifice leaves in desperation to grow its fruit and seeds if it lacks enough nutrients.

3 years is a long time without any fertiliser for the plants.

Lack of nutrition leads to a weaker immune system.

You will need to remove the dead leaves as they are not helping your plants. Make sure you leave the un diseased new shoots and leaves intact to allow further growth.

And choose a simple fish emulsion fertiliser ask for (NPK 5-1-1) as it will have 5 nitrogen 1 potassium 1 phosphate which will be a safe dose when diluted with clean water.

mix a small amount of the fertiliser with clean water (1spoon per litre) and feed the plants by pouring it around the base but not on it. Do this for each plant once a month at first to avoid overdose as we still don't know the exact requirements of this plant. For that reason I'm suggesting a light dose to begin with, you will be surprised just how little a plant needs to maintain its size and health. Only do this during the growing season of that plant, Plants will not require any feeding during their dormant period(usually when its colder around winter).

Caution as it smells like bad fish so do avoid getting it on your skin.

Feed your plants. especially during their growing season, at the very least once a year.

If that does not help then it could be something beyond my experience.

As mentioned by @bamboo, do check for insect infestation as they would be treated differently by using very diluted neem oil. Simply mix a drop per 1 litre of water and spray all over the plant Caution as it also smells bad like rotten garlic!

Nutrient deficiency could be due to many factors, one of which is nutrition lock out due to wrong PH from tap water but in this case from what you have said and from what I can see the soil seams to be poor in basic/essential plant nutrients.

  • I do not think it is nutrient deficiency: It seems the grey patch are round, and randomly (not near or away from veins). Also the colour is suspect: if should go from green to yellowish, before to die, and so a darker brownish (as you see on some background leaves (which seems not to have this disease on the green part). Note: the green of leaves is still very dark, so maybe it is the opposite: too much nutrients, which help fungus and insect infections. Jan 13, 2020 at 8:03
  • You are right it is an infection you see It's an infection due to nutrient deficiency Jan 13, 2020 at 14:00

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