Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ask Doug - "My baccharis is dying from the inside, what is causing it?"

Baccharis pilularis, also known as Coyote Bush, is a terrific drought tolerant, California native shrub.  Coyote Bush is great for slopes and requires little care once established.  This client noticed that her Coyote Bushes started to turn brown at the center of the plant and are slowly dying.

Since only the Coyote Bushes were affected, the probable cause is an insect.  The most common type of insect in San Diego that causes this kind of damage is the Flatheaded Borer.  Borer insects lay their eggs on the bark of trees and shrubs, especially ones that are weakened by drought.  The eggs hatch and then the larvae bore their way into the bark of the plant.  This tunneling damages the phloem, or food carrying, section plant.  This in turn will slowly kill the plant.

Some borers can be killed with a systemic insecticide.  For more information about insects and how to kill them check out the UC Davis Pest Control Webpage;

1 comment:

  1. There is a certain type of Baccharis cultivar that typically dies in the center while continuing to thrive on the edges. This is probably because in nature Coyote Bush maintains drought tolerance by keeping the outside green and not wasting resources on the interior.

    You can solve this by pruning some of the branches in the center so it grows and releafs. There are also other Coyote Bush cultivars that don't do this. This is a great native plant. Glad you used it.