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Purpleleaf Sandcherry Leaves Have Small Holes and Are Shriveling

I just purchased and planted a purpleleaf sandcherry shrub about 3 weeks ago. It has been looking pretty good until this morning. It seems like all of the leaves have small holes in them and a few are starting to shrivel. Do you have any suggestions for treating the bush?

It could be a couple things. There are several caterpillars that feed on the leaves of these and other ornamental cherries and plums. Some feed on the leaves creating irregular holes while the leaf roller wraps the leaves around them to feed.

The pear sawfly can also damage the leaves of purpleleaf sandcherry. These worm-like insects eat a layer of the leaf leaving the veins intact. It starts out like a brown spot and eventually the whole leaf can be affected. In some cases the damage can fall out leaving a hole. Though the damage bothers us it is usually not harmful to the overall health of the plant. Plus, we usually notice the damage once the insect has finished feeding for the season. Monitor the damage and if it does not get worse the pests are done eating for the season.

Aphids and mites don’t eat holes in the leaves but can cause distorted and discolored growth. Look at the tips of the branches for small tear drop shaped insects (aphids) or get out the hand lens to find the tiny mites. Control these pests with a strong blast of water or insecticidal soap.

A couple of leaf spot diseases can cause brown spots to develop. The dead tissue may fall out leaving a hole that mimics insect feeding. Infection is usually not severe enough to warrant treatment. Rake and destroy the leaves as they fall. The best control is to keep your young plant healthy. 


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