Sumo Gardener

4 Common Sky Pencil Holly Problems

Sky Pencils are an easily identifiable, upright shrub. Most of the time, it is used as an accent plant, grown in a container or used to create a privacy screen when grown together in a group.

Sky Pencil Holly shrubs are an evergreen plant grown in USDA hardiness zones five through nine.

However, some gardeners worry about Sky Pencil Holly problems and shy away from these exotic plants.

Let’s take a look at some of the problems or disease most common in a Sky Pencil Holly shrub.​

1. Botryosphaeria Canker

Botryosphaeria Canker

Thankfully, there is an easier name to say for this disease, only called die-back. The Botryosphaeria bacteria makes its way into the system of the holly through a broken branch of cut somewhere on a stem.

Once it is in the Sky Pencil’s system, the bacteria gets to work, infecting the bark and tissue. Soon, those areas collapse and turn black.

The fungus creates canker sore spots on the shrub that reduce the movement of water and movement through the stem and entire plant. Soon, the leaves turn yellow and fall off of the plant.

Once Botryosphaeria enters your shrub, your job is to prevent its spread from destroying your entire plant. Locate the infected stems and cut at least one inch below the canker. If you do this throughout the whole plant, you will stop the spread of the bacteria.

Gardeners should focus on trying to stop it from happening altogether by not overwatering the shrub and removing damaged branches.

2. Web Blight

Web Blight

Another sky pencil holly problem is web blight, officially called Rhizoctonia aerial blight. This disease happens when your plant is exposed to a lot of rainfall, high humidity and warm temperatures take place all at one time.

It is a fungal disease which loves moist, humid, warm environments to grow and spread. Web blight is a particularly frustrating problem because it spreads quickly. Due to the excessive rainfall, you may not notice the spread until it’s taken a strong hold on your plant.

Typically, the fungus starts growing on the plant’s lower leaves first. Soon, you will notice the leaves on your plant turning brown and eventually black. The stem will have brown cankers near the soil.

How do you prevent web blight from taking over your Sky Pencil Holly?

It is important to plant your shrub in an area with a lot of drainages and air circulation. Each year, you should thin out its leaves, so it gets plenty of ventilation throughout the plant.

You should always water the bush in the morning, so it has plenty of time to dry before nighttime. Luckily, you can treat web blight with a simple fungicide every seven to 14 days until it's gone!

3. Leaf Spot

Leaf Spot

Another problem faced by Sky Pencil Holly growers is a fungus referred to as leaf spot. You might notice oddly shaped, yellow spots on the leaves.

Gradually, these spots turn to a purple and black color. It is important to treat leaf spot quickly because the leaves will die and fall off of the shrub. When left on its own, leaf spot will remove all of the leaves on the bush.

Homeowners should only purchase these holly bushes from trustworthy sources for plants. Otherwise, you risk bringing home fungal spores that could spread across your entire garden beds!

Remove all debris from the ground surrounding your Sky pencil because it is a breeding area for fungus. Debris tends to hold onto moisture. Treating leaf spot isn’t that difficult.

You can purchase a fungicide and spray it on the infected area. Check the instructions on the treatment, but typically one tablespoon is recommended for one gallon of water. You should treat the plant every ten to 14 days until it’s fully gone.

4. Root Rot

root rot

Root rot isn’t exclusive to just holly bushes. It happens when the soil is too wet, and it retains moisture. Oxygen is unable to penetration, leading to root rot. It is a fungal disease, causing the roots to turn brown or black.

Over time, they become mush and die off. Unfortunately, it will cause leaves to fall off and eventually, the entire plant can die! Preventing root rot is relatively easy. Planting these shrubs in the correct soil is important.

They require fast-draining soil that allows oxygen to move throughout. It is also important to never overwater these plants. Don’t water until the top one to two inches of soil is dry.

Sky Pencil Holly problems are typically easy to handle once you understand what is wrong. There is a treatment for everything!

It is best to plant your Sky Pencil in the proper location with air circulation and correct soil to avoid the possibility of diseases.

Remember to keep the area surrounding the bush clear of debris to stop the spread of fungus!

4 Common Sky Pencil Holly Problems

About the Author Ann Katelyn

I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.

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Leave a Comment:

Dana Donahue says November 2, 2018

PLEASE HELP! I have a sky pencil holly that is over 15 years old and all the sudden some of the stems and leaves have turned brown, which has NEVER happened before. We actually have 2 of them and the other one is fine. I desperately want to save this tree and need to know what I can do stop it from dying?

    Mote says November 28, 2019

    I planted 2 sky pencils several years ago , and watched how they thrived and grew about 12 inches every year, it was very exciting cause these plants are very unique and pretty. One winter caused spme damage and by spring most of the one plant eas brown, I was sick. My other one is great and 6 feet tall. I want to keep my last baby going strong. Good luck and just wanted to let you know that I feel your pain.

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