Purpleleaf Sand Cherry with borers?

Mary (zone 5b)
2 months ago

Hi all,

I've had a Purpleleaf Sand Cherry in my back

yard for many years (probably 8+ years). It's always done great until last year. I'm in Northern Colorado and we had a very early freeze and a very late freeze last year. We also had a late freeze this year. Last year, during its normal spring timeframe, it started to leaf out, then we had the late freeze and the new growth shriveled up and died so it remained leafless all last year. It wasn't unusual for my area. Many shrubs & trees had the same issue all over the area.

This year, it seems only one large branch (not the main or largest) is leafing out and flowering. That branch doesn't seem affected by this years late freeze. The rest of the branches appear bare. While I was looking at it to see if there was new growth on any other branches, I noticed some holes on the largest/main branch and some other areas that are round in shape with missing bark, but there's not a hole. All of these holes/barkless areas seem to be on the same branch (not the other branches).

There's no sap coming out of the holes and I see no bugs around the plant, and didn't detect any holes or bugs last year.

Do these look like borer holes? If so, what should I do to treat? Also, in terms of the leafless branches, if they are not easily bendable, should I prune them back? I would like to try and baby this bush along, but I'm not sure how. It was a rough year for plants last year in my area. I have an Amur Maple in my front yard that got hit with the late freeze also and is coming back this year, but appears to be sprouting new branches, rather than new leaves on the existing branches-no holes in the branches, so I'd rather not lose my two favorite specimens the same year. Any help would be appreciated.

P.S.: Please ignore the weeds. I've been avoiding pulling weeds around the bush so as not to disturb it until I figure out the right course of action.

Comments (4)

  • ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
    2 months ago

    in my MI.. i would give t a couple more weeks... and then start cutting out all the dead stuff ... and then wonder.. by the time you are done.. if you want to look at what is left for the rest of the summer ... it might be time to get rid of it ...

    the damage looks like birds going after borer ...

    the growth right at teh root flare ... and presuming no insult to the root mass.. the thing might grow back with a vengence ...

    all leaves are food making machines.. so i would leave anything with leaves ... but if that low center growth takes off .. i would probably remove the errant branches in fall.. or next spring ...

    back when i used to mess with these.. if i got 8 to ten years out of them ... that was about it ... eventually i just quit buying more ... in other words.. if you do remove it.. find something else in that color range is you like such.. but stay away from plum .. they have there own problems.. like black knot.. and the same short life span ...


    Mary (zone 5b) thanked ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5
  • mmmm12COzone5
    2 months ago

    We have had one for 20+ years in the Denver area. Eventually it got to looking like yours. We cut out the dead and pruned it back to a smaller shape. The next year it rebounded beautifully. It appears to be getting a bit "leggy" again so will probably get cut back this year again.

    Here it is in the background of my picture of my purple brooms.

    It is one of my favorite bushes in the yard and it would be missed if we took it out.

    Mary (zone 5b) thanked mmmm12COzone5
  • Mary (zone 5b)
    Original Author
    2 months ago

    When you pruned it back, did you do it during the next fall Season, or did you wait until the beginning of the following spring?

  • mmmm12COzone5
    2 months ago
    last modified: last month

    My guess is we did it when we noticed it which was the spring. But it was some years ago so hard to remember. I do remember it was very overgrown and had alot of thick dead branches.

    Edit: We just took some almost dead stuff (very small amount of leaves) off the back of the bush I posted in the photo above. I don't think you have anything to lose by taking it back now and allowing it to grow all summer. Note that the new growth from the base comes in green and looks like a different bush because of the start color difference. That is the stuff you need to let grow up.

    Mary (zone 5b) thanked mmmm12COzone5
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