CHICAGO (CBS) – At the Morton Arboretum, the boxwood maze looks amazing from the perspective of CBS 2’s drone camera, but closer to earth, there’s a problem.
The cool, soggy weather this spring is affecting plants and bushes, and the typically hardy boxwood has been especially stressed. At the Arboretum, the boxwoods are brown in spots and some branches are dying.
“I don’t think much of this is going to come back,” Arboretum horticulturist Sharon Yiesla said, pointing to some browned boxwood on the grounds.
Judging from pictures sent to CBS 2 from concerned plant owners, it’s clear the Arboretum is not alone.
“We’re getting calls from all over, emails from all over,” said Yiesla. “It’s every day, all day.”
Although this is an especially unusual year, the Arboretum’s horticulturists examined the boxwoods and have pinpointed a reason why the bushes are struggling.
It’s stress. Yes, even plants get stressed out.
Why? There was the 2012 drought, followed by flooding in 2013, then the 2014 polar vortex, along with wet springs and dry summers since then.
“They’re dry, there isn’t much water getting to them,” said Yiesla.
Boxwoods are especially hardy, but weaken just a bit as they start to fill out in the spring. That’s when this year’s late season snows took a toll.
So even if these brown dry leaves make you panic, the experts say don’t give up hope just yet.
Newer leaves are a sign the boxwoods could rebound. Horticulturists recommend to wait until early June before deciding to pull them up altogether.
“We are urging people don’t cut yet no matter how horrible it looks,” said Yiesla “Give it a couple of weeks.”
If you are concerned that your boxwood issues may be related to something other than weather stress, the Morton Arboretum’s plant clinic will examine any leaves and branches you bring to them for an individual diagnosis