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Why Is My Toyon Plant Dying? 6 Common Reasons

Why Is My Toyon Plant Dying? 6 Common Reasons

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Toyon plants aren’t susceptible to many diseases, but several issues can cause them to wither away and die. Keep in mind that toyon plants naturally lighten and shed leaves during late spring and throughout the summer. However, blackened, mildew-covered, brittle toyon plants need attention immediately.

Common causes of Toyon Plants dying include diseases like fire blight and sudden oak death. Non-disease issues include mineral deficiencies, pests, and inadequate water or oxygen in the soil. Additionally, the soil needs enough carbon and nitrogen to promote optimal plant growth. 

Throughout this article, I’ll explain the common reasons why your toyon plant may be dying and what you can do about it. Keep reading to learn more. 

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1. Fire Blight

Fire Blight is a fairly common plant disease. Its name comes from the burnt appearance on the leaves and woody portions of the plant. Toyon bushes can emit a watery, tan substance as a clear indicator of fire blight (source).

How To Fix

The best way to get rid of fire blight is to trim away one foot down the infected stem on the toyon plant. You don’t have to trim every stem, just the ones that are infected.

Look for burn marks to know if they have fire blight. Ironically, you can sear the ends of the cut portions with fire to prevent the infection from spreading.

2. Toyon Mineral Deficiencies

Toyon plants need plenty of zinc, magnesium, and many other minerals that are typically found in the soil.

However, if you live in a place with dry or nutrient-deprived soil, your toyon plants could wilt or die. The good news is those nutrient deficiencies are easy to reverse, especially if you have access to new soil.

How To Fix

You can aerate the soil to encourage proper mineral absorption in your toyon plant. Also, add magnesium to the soil with a garden hose. Most city water supplies have plenty of minerals, making them perfect for watering your garden.

Another option is to add new fertilizer to the soil. Many fertilizers are loaded with nutrients. For example, this Organic Liquid Fertilizer (link to Amazon) has plenty of vitamins and minerals for your toyon plant.

Each bottle contains potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, and more.

3. Pests

Thrips, scales, deer, and many other pests will target your growing toyon bush. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to prevent most animals from eating your toyon berries without making them inedible for you and your family.

On the bright side, you can prevent insects from eating your toyon bush or making a home out of the surrounding soil.

How To Fix

While you could use an array of pesticides, many of them can damage surrounding plants. Some chemical pesticides also dry out the soil and cause hydration problems for shrubs, trees, and more.

Instead, opt for all-natural pesticides, such as neem oil. You can spray neem oil directly on any edible plant without damaging the flowers, berries, roots, or stems.

Furthermore, neem oil isn’t harmful to pets and other animals. However, it’ll keep them away from the toyon bush, letting it thrive.

4. Sudden Oak Death

Sudden oak death is caused by a pathogen that spreads to over 100 different plant varieties. It is also responsible for over 1,000,000 plant deaths in the last ten years, making it one of the hardest plant illnesses to handle. In fact, there’s no known cure for sudden oak death, regardless of the infected plant species (source). 

How To Fix

There’s no way to prevent the inevitable demise of a toyon bush with sudden oak death. Massive decay opens each stem and branch, ripping away at the plant until it’s gone.

However, you can prolong the process and keep your toyon bush around for a few more months by trimming the decaying portions as soon as you notice them.

5. Not Enough Nitrogen and Carbon

Carbon and nitrogen are essential for all plant life. However, too much of either element can cause long-term damage to your toyon bushes.

You can quickly add both of these elements to your soil, enriching the toyon plant and reversing the unwanted effects. The most important part is to know what signs to look for, including yellowing tips or black spots.

How To Fix

Here’s how you can add nitrogen and carbon to the soil for your toyon bush:

  1. Add compost from your compost bin. Compost naturally has a perfect carbon-to-oxygen ratio under proper conditions.
  2. Use mulch from mowing your lawn. Mulch is rich in nitrogen, especially if you have fresh grass clippings.
  3. Aerate the soil. This process mixes the carbon and nitrogen already in the dirt, helping your plants access it much easier.

6. A Lack of Oxygen or Water

Toyon bushes need aerated soil and plenty of water. While they’re relatively resistant to the cold, they need to stay hydrated throughout the year.

If your toyon plant doesn’t get enough air or water, it’ll wilt, yellow, and dry out. You’ll notice the base of the plant feels dry, and the stems look hollow and brittle.

How To Fix

If your toyon plant doesn’t have enough water and oxygen, apply these suggestions:

  • Use water globes, sprinklers, or garden hoses to water the plants regularly.
  • Aerate the soil with a manual aerator or aeration boots.
  • Remove neighboring weeds that could absorb some of the water in the soil.
  • Keep your toyon bush in a well-ventilated area.

For instance, the Spike Aerator (link to Amazon) pokes into the soil, letting oxygen go deep into the dirt. This process takes less than a minute and can work wonders for your lawn and garden. It also comes with a protective pad for an ergonomic grip while you aerate the soil.

Note: spike aeration is not recommended for compact soil such as clay. Please read our guide to soil aeration methods and the appropriate approach you should take depending on your soil.

Final Thoughts

Although there are more than enough problems that can go wrong with a toyon plant, you can reverse all but one of them (sudden oak death). Most of these issues are fixed by improving the soil and pruning the plant properly.

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Willie Moore
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