Laurel diseases

Laurel is a very easy plant to maintain. I have one I can corroborate it: it takes care of itself! I only watered it occasionally the first year it was on the ground; later … not even that. It is very resistant, enduring a summer drought that more times than desired begins in late spring and lasts until the fall for some seasons. For all these reasons, talking about laurel diseases is a bit strange to me.

But it is also true that this does not mean that it does not have or can have; rather the opposite: things like watering it excessively, exposing it to the sun without being acclimatized, or having it in a pot with an inadequate substrate makes it a very vulnerable plant to infection. So, let’s see what problems you may have and how to fix them.

The diseases that this tree can have, often grown as a large shrub or small tree, are the ones that we are going to see below:


Although it is in the first position of this list, it is really very rare for laurel to have bacteriosis. Now, that it is rare does not mean that it cannot end up affected, so it is important to say that if your plant has spots on the leaves, or the fruits look bad, with wounds, and if the branches also have cankers , it is possible that Pseudomonas bacteria are hurting you.

Treatment consists of pruning the affected parts , using tools that are disinfected and clean. Likewise, you have to deal with copper-based products , since they reduce bacterial activity.

Sooty mold or bold

Sooty mold is a laurel disease

This is a very common fungal disease in many plants, but especially in laurel. It is associated with insects that almost every spring and summer we will see on the leaves if we do not take action in time: mealybugs . These settle on the underside of the foliage, from which they feed on the sap. But beware, it can also end up sick of bold if that plague is whitefly or aphids. Why?

Well, these three insects secrete a honeydew which is what attracts fungi, particularly the genus Capnodium . As the days go by, the leaves turn blackish, since a kind of layer is formed on them . It is not usually a serious illness; that is to say, it is difficult that it is going to kill the laurel; but it will make it quite ugly.

Luckily, it can be treated by attacking the pest . Once the insects are eradicated, the disease almost always goes away on its own. So, feel free to try insecticides against mealy bugs , anti-aphids or anti-whitefly , depending on what is affecting you.

Root rot

Laurel root rot is a very serious problem, caused by overwatering, too frequent rains, and / or poorly drained soil . There are many pathogenic fungi that attack the root, but we certainly have to highlight the Phytopthora. These enter the interior of the roots when they are weakening due to the lack of oxygen caused by excess water.

And of course, sooner rather than later this part, which is essential for the plant, will no longer be able to perform its functions. It turns brown and then dies. Then the leaves will turn that color too, and in the end we will have a dry bay tree. Fortunately, it can be avoided .

The way to achieve this is by watering only when necessary : once a week, or two at most if it is in a pot. Also, the land has to be well drained, otherwise you could run into problems. Therefore, if it is in a container, it will be filled with peat mixed with 30% perlite; If it is going to be put in the ground, it is necessary to make sure before that the water is absorbed quickly, and if it does not, it will be done in a hole of 1m x 1m and it will be filled with peat mixed with perlite in equal parts.


Bay pox is caused by the fungus Stigmina carphopila . It is not a particularly serious problem, but if you see that its leaves have purple spots, it is surely this disease. 

You can treat it with fungicides that contain copper, following the manufacturer’s instructions. In this way, the plant will gradually improve.

Xylella fastidiosa

Xylella fastidiosa can affect laurel

Image – Wikimedia / Charles J. Sharp // This is the insect that transmits Xylella, whose name is Philaenus spumarius .

The Xylella is a bacterium that affects especially olive trees, although it is estimated that there are about 300 species of plants that can also become ill. One of them is laurel, and like all the others, it can present a sad appearance, as if it lacked water. That is, we will see that it has brown, dry leaves, and that it has stopped growing .

There is no effective treatment for this disease. But for what it’s worth, a biologist who was dedicated to producing plants and then selling them explained to me in his day that when the first symptoms are detected, and once it is known for certain that he has Xylella, what can be done is to cut the branch or branches that are affected , since this reduces the risk that the whole plant ends up ill.

We hope it has been useful for you to know what are laurel diseases, and most importantly, how to treat them.

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