Why Is My Ligustrum Tree Dying? [3 Common Causes Explored]

Would you like to know why your Ligustrum tree is dying? Well, we have researched this topic and have the answers for you. It is vital to understand why your Ligustrum tree is dying so you can help it recover.

There are three main reasons your Ligustrum tree is dying. These three reasons are overwatering, underwatering, and over-fertilizing.

In this article, we will learn why your Ligustrum tree is dying. We will also learn the answers to other interesting questions, such as what zones do Ligustrum trees like to grow, and how do you propagate Ligustrum trees? Keep reading to learn more.

Ligustrum lucidum tree and flowers Oleaceae evergreen tree - Why Is My Ligustrum Tree Dying [3 Common Causes Explored]

Why Is My Ligustrum Tree Dying?

Oleaceae evergreen tree - LIGUSTRUM TREE

When you notice your Ligustrum tree dying, it means something is stressing it out.

The three primary reasons your Ligustrum tree will begin to die are overwatering, underwatering, and over-fertilizing. Let's discuss these common mistakes and how to remedy them.


Overwatering your Ligustrum tree can cause a myriad of problems.

If the roots of your tree are over-saturated with water, they won't be able to breathe well. This can cause the leaves to begin turning yellow and dying.

When there is too much water, it can also cause a fungal or bacterial infection. Fungal infections are usually detected by white spots on your plant's leaves. A bacterial infection will leave tiny black spots on the leaves and stems.

One of the easiest ways to tell if you are overwatering is to check the soil around the base of your Ligustrum tree. You are overwatering if the soil is soaked instead of lightly damp.

The solution for overwatering is to cut down on the length of time you water and how many days per week. Once you have cut down on watering, check to see if the soil around your plant is less saturated.

You should cut watering times further if the soil is still very damp.

If your plant has developed a bacterial or fungal infection, you must treat it with a fungicide or bactericide. Each type of poison will only treat a disease, so you must correctly identify what is hurting your plant.

If you aren't sure what type of infection your Ligustrum tree has, you can use a multipurpose spray that treats fungus and bacteria. Here are two of the most popular sprays that treat fungus and bacteria on Amazon.

Monterey Fungicide & Bactericide

View it here on Amazon.

Garden Safe Fungicide 3

Check this product out on Amazon.


Underwatering can lead to your Ligustrum tree's leaves wilting and dying. Your Ligustrum tree can even have large sections die if left without water for too long.

One way to check for underwatering is to see how dry the soil around your tree is. If it's dry and at least two inches below the surface, you are underwatering.

To correct underwatering, increase watering times slightly and watering days by one. It's vital not to increase watering times too fast to avoid the problems of overwatering.

After about a week, check how your Ligustrum tree is responding. If your tree isn't showing significant improvement, you should increase watering times further.

Keep doing this weekly until your tree reacts positively.

Over Fertilizing

Over-fertilizing is one of the most straightforward problems to identify because the problem will start shortly after fertilizing. You will also see signs of fertilizer burn.

Fertilizer burn turns the edges of your leaves brown and the rest of each leaf yellow. Fertilizer burns leaves' edges because your tree will take excess fertilizer and pump it away from its center to survive.

To fix over-fertilizing, take a hose and soak the ground around your tree for two hours. Since fertilizers readily dissolve, you can flush them out of the ground with water.

After soaking the ground, allow it to dry for three days. If you don't see improvements in your tree, try soaking again to rinse more fertilizer.

Once you see your Ligustrum tree bouncing back, you will know you've removed enough fertilizer.

What Zones Do Ligustrum Trees Grow In?

Leaves covered with frost

Ligustrum trees like to live in hardiness zones seven to ten.

Hardiness zones are a measure of an area's yearly average lows. Hardiness zones seven to ten mean that Ligustrum trees can handle low temperatures between zero and forty degrees Fahrenheit.

Ligustrum trees have been known to also survive in Hardiness zone six. If you try to grow a Ligustrum in zone six, you may need to cover it with burlap during winter storms.

You can also grow Ligustrum in zone eleven if you plant it in a partially shady area to prevent burning in the sun. Under a larger tree can be a great place in zone eleven.

How Do You Propagate A Ligustrum Tree?

To propagate a ligustrum tree, take a cutting of new growth and dip the base in root hormone. Root hormone tells the cells in a plant to grow roots.

After treating the base of your cutting, plant it in soil and water it. After a week, the cutting will have grown roots and be ready for transplant.

Find a good location to transplant your Ligustrum tree and dig a hole deep enough to cover all the roots.

After placing your new tree in the ground, take the handle of a shovel and gently tap the ground around it. This will help to compact the soil around the base of your tree and prevent it from leaning over time.

Next, give your tree a drink of water to help it recover from the stress of the transplant. Two weeks after planting your new tree, spread some fertilizer around its base to keep it healthy.

Can You Grow A Ligustrum Tree In A Container?

Ligustrum lucidum tree and flowers

A Ligustrum tree can be grown in a container, but you must take certain precautions to keep it healthy. Root rot is one of the most common issues with growing a Ligustrum tree in a container.

Root rot occurs when your container can't adequately drain. Make sure whatever container you grow your Ligustrum tree has plenty of drainage holes to keep the soil from becoming oversaturated.

Another issue with growing a Ligustrum tree in a container is root strength. As your Ligustrum tree grows, it will need stronger roots to keep it up.

Your plant could fall over if your container doesn't allow enough space to grow strong.

One solution is to keep your Ligustrum tree small. Ligustrum trees aren't harmed by pruning, so you can keep your Ligustrum tree small indefinitely without dire consequences. Keeping your tree small will ensure it never outgrows its roots.

You can also transfer your Ligustrum tree to a larger container. Ensure to water and fertilize your tree every time you transfer it to help with shock.

How Do You Prune A Ligustrum Tree?

trimmed European privet hedge (Ligustrum vulgare) with new Spring leaf shoots, focus on foreground

You will need a pair of hand pruners to prune a Ligustrum tree. If you need a good pair of hand pruners, here are two of the best available on Amazon.

Corona Hand Pruner

You can find this product here on Amazon.

Fiskars Pruning Shears

You can find this product here on Amazon.

One thing to remember while pruning a ligustrum tree is that it isn't truly a tree; it's a shrub. Since a Ligustrum Tree is a shrub, it will grow many small growths on its trunk, making it look more like a bush than a tree.

To prune a Ligustrum tree, start by cutting off the small branches that form along its trunk.

Next, once you reach the part of the tree where the branches begin to separate, decide how high you want the trunk exposed.

Keep removing new branch growth until you reach where you want the crown of your tree to begin.

Now that you have cleaned up the trunk, you need to round the tree's crown. Remove branches anywhere they stick above the central part of your tree's crown.

As you remove outlier branches, your tree's crown will start to shape.

If your tree is lopsided, remove branches on the larger side to help it out. Sometimes you will need to remove a bad branch and allow your tree to fill in.

Pruning a tree is a process, so don't be afraid to remove branches that need to go.

Our Final Thoughts

This article taught us the leading causes of your Ligustrum tree dying and how to fix them. We also learned what zones Ligustrum trees like to grow.

Remember, when pruning a Ligustrum tree, remove its lower growths since the tree will try to return to a shrub shape.

Made it this far? Check out these helpful related posts below!

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