"I have a fence line of 20 rose of sharon. They are 4 years old and stand about 5 ft tall. Until last year they all were doing great. They get full sun and are spaced about 4 ft apart. Late last summer the leaves turned yellow on one of them and then the whole shrub just dried up.
"It had plenty of water and Miracle Grow. We have since lost 6 additional plants the same way. The first indication is yellow leaves and then about 3 weeks later the whole plant will just dry up. We have not seen any bugs on them. All the other ones look healthy. It's random plants also. 1 or 2 then skip several, then 1 or 2 again...."
What do yellow leaves mean on rose of sharon plants that you're watering well? I had to tell this reader that perhaps he's watering his rose of sharon plants too well! Over-watering is as bad as under-watering:
"You write that your first problematic rose of sharon 'had plenty of water.' It's just a guess (since it's impossible to know, without being there), but perhaps that could be the problem: too much of a good thing.
"Over-watering plants is an extremely common problem, and one of the signs is yellow leaves (when they should be green). The roots of plants not tolerant of waterlogged soil won't be able to 'breathe,' and they die of a lack of oxygen. Ironically, after the roots 'drown' in this manner, you'll see the 'drying up' that you mentioned -- because the now debilitated roots won't be able to make use of all that water.
"And you may truly think that you're not over-watering; but if your soil isn't well-drained, the roots still could, in fact, be resting in waterlogged soil. If your case is, indeed, a case of poorly-drained soil, your best recourse would be to transplant the rose of sharon plants to an area where the soil is well-drained. Prepare the area now, in the summer (peat moss can be mixed into soil to improve drainage), and do the transplanting in autumn, once the weather cools off.
"What seems a 'random' dying out might not really be so, at all. Let me draw an analogy. In a group of 20 people who smoke tobacco, some might die of cancer in their fifties, others might do so in the seventies, and still others might live to a ripe old age without becoming cancerous. We aren't all alike; and even folks with very similar genetic makeups are subject to different environmental influences. To some degree, the same is true of plants. For all you know, the rose of sharon plants that have survived till now may have gotten off to better starts as 'babies' and are simply a bit more resilient than those that have already died from the over-watering."
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