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Thursday, December 18, 2014

What Are These Weird Growths in My Oleander?

Q. A backyard grouping of four, 12-foot high oleanders that are 18 years old have very strange growths sprouting from the branches so I sent you a picture. Some trees have dry branches.  Others show sections of normal-looking leaves. Meanwhile, a dozen other oleanders look normal. My initial thought was that the strange group of four was not getting the proper watering.  So I have been giving those some extra shots.  But haven't noticed much change since the extra watering started about six weeks ago.

Readers witches broom of Oleander
A. Those clusters of strange growth coming from the stems are most likely witches broom of oleander caused by a fungal disease. It is often spread by pruning shears from plant to plant. It can also spread within the same plant or passed on to new plants when propagated from cuttings.
Witches broom also causes leaf tips to die back but it is usually recognized by those clusters of shoots coming from buds below the pruned area. Usually these distorted shoots grow a few inches and then die.

You may not see these symptoms show up for a couple of months after pruning have been done. This disease is also spread by insects and rainy, windy weather.

There are no chemicals that will control this disease. I would recommend that you cut severely infected plants a few inches above the soil this winter and let them regrow from the base. Make sure you sanitize your pruning shears. If you have some plants there are showing some leaf tip burn then cut these back at least 12 inches below the area showing these symptoms.

Do you want to read more about whitches broom? Click on this link.

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