By: Amy Grant
Owners of loquat trees know they are gorgeous subtropical trees with large, dark green, shiny leaves that are invaluable for providing shade in warmer climates. These tropical beauties are prone to a few issues, namely loquat leaf drop. Don’t panic if the leaves are falling off your loquat. Read on to find out why the loquat is losing leaves and what to do if your loquat is dropping leaves.
There are a couple of reasons for loquat leaf loss. Since they are subtropical, loquats do not respond favorably to drops in temperature, specifically in the spring when Mother Nature tends to be rather moody. When there is a sudden dip in temps, the loquat may respond by losing leaves.
With regard to temperature, loquat trees will tolerate temperatures down to 12 degrees F. (-11 C.), which means that they can be grown in USDA zones 8a through 11. Further dips in temperature will damage flower buds, kill mature flowers, and may even result in leaves falling off a loquat.
Cold temperatures aren’t the only culprit, however. Loquat leaf loss may be the result of high temperatures as well. Dry, hot winds combined with summer heat will scorch the foliage, resulting in leaves falling off the loquat.
Loquat leaf loss might be the result of insects, either due to feeding or in the case of aphids, the sticky honeydew left behind that attracts fungal disease. Damage due to insect infestations most often afflicts fruit rather than foliage though.
Both fungal and bacterial diseases may cause foliage loss. Loquats are particularly susceptible to fire blight, which is spread by bees. Fire blight is most common in regions with high humidity or where there is significant late spring and summer rains. This disease attacks young shoots and kills their leaves. Preventative bactericides will help control fire blight but, once it is infected, shoots must be trimmed back into healthy green tissue. Then the infected portions must be bagged and removed or burned.
Other diseases such as pear blight, cankers, and crown rot may all also afflict loquat trees.
Lastly, misapplication of fertilizer or lack thereof can result in defoliation to a certain extent. Loquat trees should have regular, light applications of a nitrogen rich fertilizer. Giving the trees too much fertilizer can open them up to fire blight. The basic recommendation for trees that are 8 to 10 feet (2-3 m.) in height is about a pound (0.45 kg) of 6-6-6 three times per year during active growth.
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You mentioned that you were not sure, but your tree could be declining due to excessive water. From the picture you submitted, that would be my guess. Loquats are not tolerant of "flooded" soil conditions-they can decline quickly if overwatered-the lower leaves are usually the first to go. Have you experienced some rainy spring weather recently?
Loquat roots are fussy about standing in water, so make sure your container provides adequate drainage. I can't see the bottom of your container, but if you have it sitting in a tray or pan, make sure you dump out any excess water that collects in it after it rains or after you water. Approximately how old is your tree? (The nursery you bought it from should be able to tell you.) For the first 3 years, loquat trees should be watered once a week during dry periods (5 or more days of little to no rainfall).
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Call the nursery you bought it from -- I'm sure they'll be able to help you !
I'm having the exact same problem! I live in San Diego and have a loquat just that size that I've had in a container for the past year.
I had heard that Loquat tree was very sensitive to excessive water in soil. I reduced the amount of water from the sprinkler and that seems to have helped, but leaves are still turning yellow, only at a slower rate.
I have had loquat trees for many years. The leaves start turning when you plant them because they go into shock. Just make sure that you give them plenty of water after transplanting. There is nothing wrong with the tree. I have one that is about 15 feet tall.
I didn't think it was transplant shock, because it didn't happen immediately, but it occurs to me that I was out of the B-1 I generally use when transplanting, and then we had a sudden heat wave for about three days. Right after that the leaves started turning, so perhaps it is just shock. I'll wait and see if it improves.
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Looking for an evergreen tree, preferably ornamental, to give privacy in a gap approx 1-1/2 metre square, brick wall at back and brick built summerhouse with shed on either side. Planning to have shrubs with one tree at back. I've been looking at loquat but there are so many varieties that I need advice if one would be suitable or any suggestions you may have for alternatives.
You mention you have a small garden, the size of a mature Loquat tree may be overwhelming for your space.
I have included a few links for you to help in your decision.
Thanks for the photos. The dead area is much larger than I pictured it. Yes, the leaves are dead because the branch is dead, which means it's no longer attached to the "plumbing" in the roots that send water to it.
The trunk photo is a little blurry, but the damage doesn't appear to be anything that would have caused the entire branch to die. Hmmm, very curious.
My best recommendation is still to prune out the dead growth and watch closely to see if there is any future damage before it spreads too far. It really doesn't look like any sort of disease issue. But even if it were, the recommendation would be the same: remove the infected tissue and make sure the cultural situation in the environment does not encourage infestation. That would be: enough water, but not so much that the soil stays overly wet. Don't over-fertilize.
Keep me posted! You can give us a call if you like. 512.854.9600. I will be out of the office until 11/24/14, then we're out quite a bit for the holidays. But Master Gardeners are available to chat a few days a week.
Well, poo. I was certainly hoping that the damage was limited to one spot.
Although you could fertilize your tree (the spring would be best), not having done so to this point would not have caused your tree to show this type of damage, nor will fertilizing help combat this particular issue. Lack of nutrition materializes as yellow or brown leaves, but doesn't manifest as one entire section of the tree dying back.
Is there any chance that something damage the roots of the tree, especially on the side with the largest die-back? Or did you by chance use an herbicide or a "weed and fee" type fertilizer? Those would both cause damage and could produce these symptoms.
If you would like to send a less-blurry picture of the bark, and any other relevant photos, I'll pass this question along to my plant pathology colleagues and see if they see something I'm missing.
Glad we can rule out herbicide damage. Let's see what we can do with you new photos. I'll be unavailable for most of Friday, but I'll watch for them this weekend.
I cannot tell much details from the photos but I think that there may be a couple of things going on.
The pattern on the bark suggest some kind of canker. If the coloration in the photo is accurate - I would suspect something like a cytospora canker. This is a fungal problem which tends to occur on some trees and starts via some damage. So the symptoms you see is probably due to some damage done months (even years) earlier.
However, looking at the pattern (wideangle photo) would suggest localized branch problem. Trace back from the dead part - see how far you see the "funky" bark. If it stops before the trunk then pruning should (hopefully) stop the problem from progressing. That means - looking for the origin of the problem and then pruning out the affected branch.
Along with this, see if you can identify any cultural situations which may have contributed to potential physical damage of the tree.
The crape myrtle and lantana may be unrelated. When you mentioned mold - I suspect that you are referring to dark, black stuff which is commonly called sooty mold. These are opportunist fungi growing on excretion of insect (usually a leafhopper or aphids). Looks bad but rarely kills the plant.
Cultural situation refers to both environmental impacts (such as drainage issues, soil grade change issue, etc. ) or mechanical issues ( physical damage caused by chronic events such as structure or branch rubbing/abrasion) - these are things that could contribute to a way for the pathogen to enter the plant. These are things that can be changed or practiced differently to reduce future risk.
I think zone 7 is at the edge of this tree's hardiness range. In fact some sites put the edge at zone 8. We had some pretty cold weather this year - it got down to 10 degrees in Cherokee County one night this year. I think there is a chance the tree will recover and put out new leaves, especially given that you have seen green under the bark. I think it just got shocked. Give it some time, even until May.
Loquat is one of my favorite plants. I love its bold, tropical looking foliage and its clusters of ivory-colored flowers in the late fall.
I agree with esh ga that you'd be wise to give your loquat (_Eriobotrya japonica_) a chance to recover from whatever ails it before removing it from your landscape. If there is considerable limb loss, do you think the loquat could be suffering from fire blight, which is a common affliction of members of its plant family? It may be a good idea to consult the University of Florida's Agricultural Extension Service, which should have its publications on the Internet, to see what U of FL Extension has to say about loquat maladies. The Floridata database would be another good source of information about the loquat.
Re: the woodpecker. Do you think he/she may have discovered an insect of some kind that was harming the loquat? Maybe the tree has an insect problem, rather than a problem with fire blight.
I further agree with esh ga that loquat is marginally hardy in Zone 7b however, the gradual loss of leaves doesn't sound like cold injury to me. If injured by the cold, the leaves of the loquat would be brown around the edges, or entirely brown, with the tip growth killed or obviously burned.
I have young loquats planted as foundation shrubs at the northwest corner of my house. They've been in the ground for only a couple of years. My loquats endured at least one approximately 10 degree Fahrenheit low this past winter and several other nights in the low to mid-teens. They apparently came through the cold well, with only a few leaves showing any injury.