Why Are The Skip Laurel Leaves Turning Brown? [Solution]

Skip laurels are alluring bushy shrubs that can be used as an excellent privacy screen without any doubt. The evergreen glossy leaves are so low maintenance that once you plant the skip laurel you can just unwind and let it thrive on its own way.

However, there is one major problem that bothers the skip laurels very frequently. Their leaves start to turn brown and look as if they are dying gradually. And this is definitely a signal that your skip laurel plants are in big trouble.

Winter damage, improper watering, fertilizer burn, sunburn, and fungal diseases are 5 top reasons why the skip laurels are turning brown.

But the good news is, you won’t have to search anywhere else to search for the treatment of these brown leaves because in this article I have discussed all the necessary information you need to know to revive a dying skip laurel.

So without making any delay let’s get down to business–

5 Reasons For Skip Laurel Turning Brown

Skip Laurel Browning

1. Winter Damage

We have all heard of the word sunburn. Interestingly there’s a different type of burn called “winter burn”. 

You see, during the winter the weather mostly gets very dry and as a result, the wind takes up all the moisture from the leaf tissues.

Eventually, this makes the skip laurel tree turn so weak that it becomes unable to uptake moisture from the soil. As a result, the cells of the leaves die and the leaves turn brown.

Control Measure

In this case, you have to prevent your skip laurel tree from drying out. Because cold temperatures and dry breezes can damage your trees to a great extent. 

Spread a layer of organic mulch around your tree during the dry periods. If you have planted your tree on the northern side then it’s a good idea to shield them with a windbreak with a couple of rows of trees and shrubs.

After taking all these measures if the leaves still seem brown then wait for the winter to be over. Because during the spring the skip laurels will shed leaves and grow new ones.

2. Improper Watering

If you have noticed the tips of your skip laurel leaves are turning brown, then it means the tree is not properly watered.  This can happen when the tree is not getting enough water and the soil is too dry. 

The challenge here is to know how much your skip laurel needs water when the weather conditions are changing every day. You can get a moisture meter to get a quick reading about the water requirement of the soil (Our pick: SONKIR Soil pH Meter, MS02 3-in-1 Soil Moisture/Light/pH Tester)

You can also dip your index finger into the soil to feel the moisture status.

Control Measure

Firstly, you have to maintain a good watering schedule. Water them once a week. But when it’s the rainy season, reduce the amount of watering.

You see, the trick is to avoid both overwatering and underwatering. Because both the cases bring browning of the leaves.

They need a bit of deep watering during the dry seasons so don’t hesitate to use a hose pipe and moisten the ground nicely. But don’t let them stay waterlogged for too long.

Besides these, mountain laurels are quite drought tolerant so a little late watering will not affect it very much.

You can also put a layer of mulch (about 3-4 inches) around the tree but be sure to keep the mulch a few inches away from the base of the tree.

However,  mulches will attract various insects. So don’t forget to use a good insecticide that is not toxic to humans but it will efficiently kill off the harmful pests (our pick: Natria 706250A Neem Oil Spray)

As these store-bought insecticides are chemicals, it’s best to apply them strictly according to the package instructions.

3. Fertilizer Burn

Check if your trees are having browning symptoms after the application of any fertilizer. The skip laurel leaves can turn brown due to chemical burn. In this case, you will see the leaf tips and edges are discolored and wrinkled.

So the bottom line is, when the dose of the fertilizer is not correct then the ground contains too many nutrients at the same time. As a result, the skip laurel trees absorb these nutrients in bulk. Sadly it burns inside their system and kills the leaf tissues turning them brown.

Fertilizer burn is not a matter to be taken lightly because in severe cases the whole vascular system of your skip laurel can get affected and young plants can die.

Control Measure

To get the best blooms feed your Skip laurel trees during every spring once they have flowered. Get the best slow-release fertilizer that has all the nutrients in balanced form. (our pick: Espoma Organic Plant-tone)

Before fertilizing read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and apply according to the dosage mentioned. This will make sure that you don’t end up overfertilizing your skip laurel.

Remember to avoid fertilizing the tree when the soil is too dry or the weather is too hot. Always select cool and moderate weather.

4. Sunburn

During too intense and hot weather leaves of a lot of trees can turn brown. And the same thing can happen with your mountain laurels and turn their leaves yellow and brown. Actually, they prefer the morning sunlight when the light is sweet and mild.

The rays of the sun during the afternoon can be quite strong and this can lead to the drying up of your skip laurel within a few days during very hot days.

Control Measure

Young plants are more susceptible to sunburn than old ones. So the best way is to let them soak for 5-6 hours of morning sunlight and give them some shade during the later part of the day.

You can change the locations of your potted skip laurels in a way that they are exposed to the sunlight during the morning and shaded during the afternoon.

5. Fungal Disease

While this is not a regular thing, skip laurels suffer from fungal disease every once in a while. Fungal leaf spot is a common disease and it causes browning of the leaves that come with scattered spots all over the leaves.

It mostly occurs when the weather is cool and humid. Because in these conditions the fungal spores can spread through air and water very swiftly. 

Prune off your skip laurel a few inches when the branches seem too crowded. This will help the trees to have a better air circulation around them.

After removal of infected parts choose the best fertilizer that will cure the fungal browning of your skip laurels (our pick: Bonide 775 Copper Fungicide Rtu Natural)

Remember to keep the infected branches away from any healthy trees. And put them inside a plastic wrapper and throw it in the garbage.

If you prefer to use homemade ways of treating fungal diseases then the following recipes will come in very handy–

Recipe 1:- Baking Soda Fungicide Recipe


  •  1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing soap
  •  5 liters of water


  • Mix all the ingredients and pour the solution into the sprayer
  • Spray on both sides of your skip laurel leaves
  • Always make a freshly prepared batch and prevent from storing the leftover solution

#Recipe 2:- Cinnamon Spray Fungicide Recipe


  • 140 grams of cinnamon powder 
  •  5 liters of water 


  • Mix both the ingredients together
  • Let this solution sit overnight or at least for 5-6 hours
  • Then strain it with a fine cloth and pour it into the sprayer
  • Spray thoroughly on both sides of the skip laurel until the problem is solved 

Note: Homemade solutions can sometimes negatively react with skip laurels. So before you start to apply be sure to try it out on a small leaf. If the leaf burns or shows any abnormal symptoms then either dilute the homemade fungicide or you can skip that particular fungicide.

The Ultimate watering Guide For Skip Laurels

Skip Laurels Watering

  • Water the plants every week during the summer when there is no rainfall. 
  • Use a hose near the base of the plant and thoroughly wet the soil by letting it on for 30 minutes. 
  • And during very hot periods increase the amount of watering upto 45 minutes every week. 
  • Or you can also water it more frequently if the weather is constantly too hot.
  • Reduce the amount of watering during the winter and increase it gradually when the spring arrives
  • Water at the base so that the leaves stay dry. This will help to avoid fungal diseases on the leaves.
  • And lastly to maintain the health of the skip laurels by removing all the diseased and damaged branches as soon as you notice them. Because pathogens may live in these branches and can cause various fatal diseases. 
  • Do not worry about the brown and dying leaves, especially during the winter. 
  • Once you establish a good watering schedule the tree itself will recover when spring arrives.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. How do I prune an overgrown laurel?

First, prune off the diseased and dead branches including the oldest ones. Continue to remove these selected portions upto one-third of the tree. You can prune off the tree every spring when the new growth has started to appear.

2. How do I encourage Laurel growth?

To get the best results it’s best to plant them from October to March so that the tree can finish its root development before winter comes. Water them in fewer amounts but more frequently until the plant establishes itself. After that go back to watering once a week. Also to encourage better growth keep the plants at least 3 feet apart from each other.

3. Do Skip laurel plants lose their leaves in winter?

Skip laurels are a bit sensitive to the winter temperature and dryness. They lose a lot of moisture and the leaves turn brown. Eventually, the plant starts to lose its leaves. However, to compensate the loss, during the spring it starts to grow more green leaves


Skip laurels are known for their ability to recover super quickly. So if you just take some time to water them correctly and follow a regular fertilizer, fungicide, and insecticide application schedule, then your mountain laurels will be strong enough to fight off any problems in the future.

Meanwhile, don’t forget to take some precautions before the winter comes, to save it from winter shock. I hope this article has helped you to figure out why your skip laurel leaves are turning brown and provided you with all the best solutions to help them revive.

James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg

James Rivenburg is the founder of plantandpest.com, a passionate gardener with valuable experience and knowledge gained through trial and error. The website has a large community of followers who trust his tips and techniques and have succeeded with his advice. He is always Committed to helping others create a beautiful and healthy garden.

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