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Diseases of Compact English Laurel Shrubs

By Carole Ellis ; Updated September 21, 2017
These laurel leaves have a few small trouble signs on them in the form of small, black spots.
laurel leaf image by Marek Kosmal from Fotolia.com

Compact English laurel shrubs don't have many diseases. The English laurel, also called the cherry laurel, is a popular hedge bush that grows well, particularly in the South. These hardy plants are evergreen and have broad leaves. Although English laurel is more disease-resistant than other laurel varieties, it still has a few weak spots. By keeping an eye out for the signs and symptoms of these diseases, you can usually keep your hedges healthy.

English Laurel Blight

Blight is a fungal infection that destroys plant tissues. It can infect any part of the plant, and causes the leaves and stems of a laurel to turn brown or black. Left unchecked, it will break down the entire plant. Fight blight off by only watering in early morning when the soil is dry rather than watering often or later in the day. Additionally, use sterile pruning techniques to remove any affected vegetation. If the foliage continues to wilt once all blighted areas are removed, you may be dealing with root blight; the best option is to remove the plant before others become infected. Sometimes a pre-emptive fungicide treatment early in spring can prevent blight.

Shot-Hole Disease

Shot-hole disease starts out as small, black holes on leaf surfaces of the laurel bush. These holes may be less than a quarter of an inch in diameter, but left unchecked, they will grow and the centers will rot out, creating "shot holes," which is how the disease gets its name. Sterile pruning to remove affected vegetation can control shot-hole fungus. Bag and throw away diseased leaves so the fungus does not just reinfect the plant. Monitor the laurel closely and remove any further infections upon detection. If this alone does not eradicate the problem, treat the laurels with a fungicide to kill off any remaining fungal spores.


This fungus creates serious dieback problems in English laurel. You will first notice that leaves are falling from your plant, which is evergreen and should not have a seasonal loss of foliage. If you investigate, botryosphaeria likely will also have started to kill off shoots and limbs. Remove all affected parts of the plant using sterile pruning and dispose of the debris by burning it or placing it in a garbage bag. If the problem persists, treat the plant and the surrounding soil with a fungicide to limit the damage.