These are new plantings from about 1.5yrs ago and weren't doing well from get go. They were planted in a winter with lots of snow. I think it's some kind of holly but I'm not sure. enter image description here The leaves have brown spots on them, that are also present on the bottom of the leaves. Nothing that looks like white or black deposits on them. They gradually brown then fall off. Could it be not enough water? 2 of the bushes look to be completely dead. One has currently lost almost all the leaves and the branches are yellow green... On the way to dying it looks like.enter image description here Can anyone help identify and hopefully salvage these? There are a couple off shoots (I think) that I'm hoping to replant were the dead ones are but this might not be a good idea if there's an infection going on.

For context, they're located in full sun in zone 7 (US) with clay soil.

2 Answers 2


It looks like ordinary holly, Ilex aquifolium, to me. Mahonia has similar-looking leaves but they are smaller, with leaflets arranged along a central leaf stem, while this has simple leaves. Hollies don't like transplanting, hard winters or poor drainage so some dieback is not surprising, and a more likely explanation for the symptoms than an infectious disease. With a clay soil they are more likely to be suffering from too much water than not enough, and if you replace one I would dig in some compost first to lighten the soil texture.


It looks like a mahonia of some kind to me. The problem might be sun, since mahonia are woodland plants. Give them some shade and a dressing of leaf mold and see if they recover. They do tolerate poor soils, but I don’t know if that includes clay. It usually means with low nutrients, which clay is not. Mine are in slightly acidic soil and do well between the surrounding trees.

  • Thanks for responding. I was looking up mahonias and it looks like those have blue berries. This plant has red berries and small white flowers. Looking at more pictures online. It sort of looks like blue princess holly except the leave on these don't look to have a blue green tint to me. I took a closer look at the leaves and there's indeed a white material on the underside. Do you know what this might be and how to treat it? Some kind of fungus?
    – Mina
    Apr 25, 2022 at 14:33

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