Sunshine Ligustrum Problems: Causes & Solutions

The Sunshine Ligustrum is one of the easiest hedges to grow. It grows at a very fast pace and does not require any kind of specialized care.

However, you may encounter different problems while growing this shrub, which can discourage you from enjoying the fun process.

If you encounter any problems with your Sunshine Ligustrum, you should try to determine what the real cause is. If your Sunshine Ligustrum’s leaves are dropping, curling, yellowing or browning, the cause is most likely improper watering, leading to root rot or fungal infections. We’ve listed some of the most common issues and how to solve them down below.

What Is Wrong With Your Sunshine Ligustrum?

Person shrugging
Even if you have a beautiful hedge that lasts for decades, you might suddenly notice that certain parts of your Privet hedge have started to wilt for no apparent reason. The decay usually starts from one side and slowly spreads across the entire length of the hedge.

In this section we’ll take a look at some common problems and solutions you might face with your Sunshine Ligustrum hedge.

Why Is My Sunshine Ligustrum Losing Leaves?

One of the most common problems with this species is leaf loss. Fortunately, Sunshine Ligustrum is a resistant plant and if this issue is spotted in time, it is relatively easy to solve. After determining the likely cause of the leaf loss, consider trying one of the following remedies to help restore your plant to its full leafy state:

Cause: Underwatering
Solution: If you are not able to devote enough time to watering, the best solution is mulching. The mulch should be arranged around the plant in a thin layer so that it does not touch the main stem, in order to avoid rotting.

Cause: Overwatering
Solution: The soil should be checked regularly. If it is too damp and soggy (this typically happens with potted plants), it should be transplanted into a new adequate plant mix. Perlite should be added to the mix and the droopy branches should be pruned so that the plant can better focus on recovery.

Cause: Pests and diseases
Solution: Of course, in addition to inspecting the ground, it is useful to inspect what’s on top of the ground, too. A particular focus should be on any of the plant’s young leaves because they are a target for parasites.

If you notice spider mites or scales and if the infestation is not advanced, the method of choice is using an organic pesticide. In the case of a strong infestation, a chemical preparation against pests should be taken. Spraying should not be done in sunny weather or wind. The ideal time for spraying is in the evening.

Seedlings brought from nurseries often suffer from transplant stress, but you can do a few things to make their adjustment period easier. It is important to choose a good location for the plant and water it regularly at the beginning until the root develops enough.

The first year, you should water the plant an inch deep every week. Shrubs are drought-tolerant once they reach a certain age. Water them every 10-14 days, increasing the frequency to once per week during dry periods.

Why Are My Sunshine Ligustrum Leaves Curling?

Watering can
Cause: Underwatering
Solution: Make sure your Sunshine Ligustrum is getting adequate water if its leaves curl in dry and hot weather. Curled leaves are a result of underwatering or a lack of drainage, which causes the roots and plant tissue to die, being unable to send water to the leaves.

Young plants are particularly susceptible to water stress. In foliage plants such as Sunshine Ligustrum, magnesium deficiency can also cause leaf curling. To prevent this from happening, you can use a teaspoon of Epsom salt diluted in one gallon (about 4 liters) of water.

Why Are There Brown Spots On My Sunshine Ligustrum?

Causes: Overwatering, Cercospora fungus
Solution: The brown spots on the leaves may indicate that too much water has caused a fungal disease. Marginal leaf spotting may occur due to the Cercospora fungus. Initially, the spots are small, yellow circles that grow and eventually turn brown.

Starting at the outer edge of the leaves, the spots progress inward, killing the leaves. As the fungus spreads and more leaves die and fall from the bush, the plant loses its ability to convert sunlight into nutrients and dies.

Cercospora does not always respond to fungicides. Two of the most effective fungicides are azoxystrobin and myclobutanil, but these should be applied early in the spring to the ground below the shrub to kill the fungus before it penetrates the plant.

If you spray healthy leaves as soon as you notice leaf spots on your plant, you can prevent the fungus from spreading to new leaves. They don’t kill the fungus that has already started discoloring the leaves, but they prevent the fungus from spreading to new leaves.

Regular raking can help to keep the fungus from attacking your plants. The spores are found on decaying leaves and in the soil. You can keep the Cercospora fungus from growing to maturity on decaying leaves by regularly raking any dead leaves or twigs under your Ligustrum shrub.

To prevent overwatering, Sunshine Ligustrum should be planted in well-drained soil and watered only when the soil is dry to the touch.

Why Are My Sunshine Ligustrum Leaves Yellowing/Browning?

Causes: Improper watering, lack of moisture, frost
Solution: Ligustrums love moist, well-draining soil, but they don’t like to be watered excessively. Overwatering damages their roots, which are in turn unable to provide enough water and nutrients to the plants. This causes their leaves to wilt and turn yellow.

Likewise, if you neglect to water your Sunshine Ligustrum for too long, it will not have enough food to sustain itself. The leaves will eventually turn yellow and drop off. They need to be watered frequently, about every 10-14 days. To ensure moisture around the base of the plant, add one to two inches of mulch.

Use a freeze cloth or a blanket to cover your Ligustrum in winter during your first growing season. Young plants are susceptible to cold weather, they will be more robust in years to come.

Cause: Pests and diseases
Solution: It’s important that Sunshine Ligustrums are in a sunny area for them to bloom; otherwise, the leaves will turn yellow. This can also prevent the spread of many fungal diseases. Your Ligustrum plant may succumb to fungus, in which case you should try to stop it from spreading. Choose the best fungicide and apply it to your Ligustrum.

What Is Attacking My Sunshine Ligustrum?

Aphids, Spider mites, Honey fungus, Scale insects, Winter Moth Caterpillars
Sunshine Ligustrum can be susceptible to a number of pests and diseases. Common problems include aphids, scale insects, spider mites, and honey fungus. In most cases, these problems can be managed with regular inspections and prompt treatment. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the potential problems and solutions before planting Sunshine Ligustrum in your garden.


Aphids are one of the most common pests Sunshine Ligustrum is really susceptible to. Aphids are tiny bugs that feed on the plant’s leaves, and younger leaves are especially in danger.

Aphids are covered by a wooly layer and can come in various colors. They are easy to spot and will considerably weaken the growth of your plant.

Solution: Fortunately, this problem is an easy fix. Take a piece of damp cloth and simply wipe away the bugs. If you prefer to go with a chemical treatment, there are a variety of pesticides specifically designed to control this pest in Sunshine Ligustrum and hedges in general. In case you choose to use chemicals, consider the ones that contain deltamethrin or cypermethrin.

Spider Mites

Another common pest that saps leaves is the spider mite. Spider mites are common to all plants, including hedges. During warm and dry weather, they can cause havoc to outdoor plants. Any mottling on the leaves’ upper surface indicates that they are having problems.

Infected plants can be easily diagnosed, because the old egg shells remain under leaves along with the yellowish-green mites. You will notice the stems and leaves getting covered in silky webs. The leaves will begin to fade and get a yellowish hue to them.

Solution: Spider mites can be controlled by cutting infested branches and leaves regularly. To completely eradicate the mites, burn infested trimmings. By doing so, this pest can easily be eliminated, but if you prefer a chemical treatment, you should choose the pesticides containing acetamiprid to control spider mites.

Honey Fungus

Honey fungi attack and kill the roots of hedges and shrubs. If you notice the poor development of newer leaves and the existing ones turning pale, that might be a sign that you have a problem with honey fungus. If the weather is humid enough, it can cause the newer and smaller branches of the shrub to eventually die.

Solution: A chemical treatment for honey fungus doesn’t exist yet, but you can treat it naturally. Remove the infected leaves and stems manually and burn them if possible. Make sure to remove the top 5-10 in (13-25 cm) of the soil to eradicate the fungus completely.

Scale Insects

Because of their protective shells, scale insects resemble small limpets. There are plenty of species of scale insects that can wreak havoc on your hedges. If the plant is infected, you will see small bumps on each side of the leaves and stems.

Solution: You can remove the scale insects manually by brushing them off the woody stem or using soapy water to remove them. This is an effective natural method of controlling scale insect propagation. To combat scale insects with chemicals, you can use pesticides that contain cypermethrin or deltamethrin.

Winter Moth Caterpillars

This bug is named winter moth because it mostly attacks plants and hedges from November to April. It is during this period that these moths emerge and lay eggs. The larvae feed on the younger leaves of hedges, destroying them in the process. If you notice any damage to young leaves, you’re probably facing a winter moth issue.

Solution: Consider introducing birds into your space since they’re natural predators to winter moths. As an alternative, there are plenty of pesticides available on the market that help control winter moth caterpillars. Once again, Deltamethrin or Cypermethrin might be able to get rid of the infection.

How Do You Revive a Dying Sunshine Ligustrum?

You can nurture your hedge plants back to health by pruning out dead or diseased growth, and committing to regular watering, feeding, mulching and composting.

If you do not drain well, you risk drowning your Ligustrum, and if you drain too quickly, you might starve it. Waterlogged soil can be improved by adding sand to the immediate area, digging close to the plant carefully, to improve water flow. Conversely, if your ground drains poorly, you may want to add some compost to increase the water retention in the immediate area.

Add 1-2 inches of mulch around the base of the plant to maintain moisture and avoid fertilizing the plant until it recovers.


Even though Sunshine Ligustrum is one of the easiest shrubs to grow, it is not without its challenges. The main causes of Sunshine Ligustrum’s decline are overwatering and underwatering issues, as well as pests and diseases.

If you notice any signs of wilting, yellowing, or curling leaves, it is important to determine the cause of the problem as soon as possible.

Make sure that your Ligustrum has moist, well-drained soil. To ensure moisture around the base of the plant, add one to two inches of mulch.

If you notice any pests or diseases attacking your Ligustrum, remove the infected leaves and stems manually and burn them. Alternatively, you can use pesticides, such as Deltamethrin or Cypermethrin. These solutions will have your Sunshine Ligustrum looking healthy for years to come!