Dear Master Gardener: I have numerous Indian Hawthorne plants. They have black spots on them, and the leaves are falling off. Usually the leaves stay green year-round and I do not see an insect infestation. Do you have any idea what could be wrong?

Dear John: You have a problem and I hope I can help you. So you don’t need to make any “extractions”! Charles Davis, Clemson Extension agent extraordinaire, knew exactly what the problem was when I took a sample to him. Your Raphiolepis have Entomosporium leaf spot. That is an official term for a fungus. A few years ago, Red Tip Photinias had the same problem and many died. You rarely find any of them on the market now.

Your Indian Hawthorne makes a wonderful foundation shrub. However, they are sensitive to cold and deer really love them. The fungus that you are experiencing comes following periods of frequent rainfall in the spring and fall, such as we had this spring. Your plants have probably grown very close together over the years and are not getting adequate air flow.

It is a good rule of thumb to water plants and shrubs with drip irrigation rather than overhead sprinklers. Diseased shrubs may be sprayed with Daconil. This is usually done during the spring, but I suggest you go ahead and spray now. Also be sure to rake the dead leaves from under your shrubs.

Be sure you follow the label directions and spray several times, rather than using too much product at one time. More than the fungicide directions recommend is not better.

You may want to do a soil sample before any fertilization. Do not fertilize or prune in the fall. The same disease also affects red tip photinia and Bradford Pear. It can also be found on quince and loquat. For a more complete diagnosis, go to your Clemson website and look for HGIC 1078.

Dear Master Gardener: My yard has been a real joy throughout the summer but it is beginning to look rather ragged now. Do you have any suggestions on how to improve it?

Dear Bedraggled: You should know by now I am never at a loss for suggestions, so I will tell you what I have been doing, because my yard like yours and everyone else’s is in the same condition. It is time to clean up and get rid of the dead annuals and save your seed for next year. Take out any unwanted grass.

I had lots of liriope in one of my beds. Divide your irises and daylilies. Cut back your daisies and phlox. Get rid of the weeds in your beds and mulch heavily to prevent their return in the spring.

It is too early to plant daffodils and other bulbs and too early to set out your pansies. I put some mums in two beds for some color for the fall but do not plan to leave them through the winter.

There are two theories about lantanas. Some say don’t cut them back or they will die. However, I don’t like to look at the dead branches all winter so I cut mine back. Often as not, they come back in the spring.

If they don’t, the plants are inexpensive and grow very quickly. Also, now is an excellent time to do a soil sample. Meanwhile, I hope you didn’t have any damage from the storm.

This column by Kay Williams (the Flower Lady) is designed to answer your gardening questions. Send questions to or to