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The zigzag shrub from New Zealand enchants with its somewhat unconventional growth. The branches are slightly crooked and constantly change direction as they grow. The name is ultimately derived from this bizarre growth form. The Escallonia plant (Escalloniaceae) is very popular in this country as a houseplant and mainly as a container plant. Normally, Corokia cotoneaster is very hardy and easy to care for. It can still happen that he occasionally loses his hands, then you have to act quickly.

Zigzag shrub loses leaves

As a rule, it is quite normal if a few leaves are shed every now and then. This is a completely natural process, old leaves fall off and new ones are formed at the same time. However, if the shrub loses a lot of leaves in a very short time and it is then soon bare, then you should definitely look for the causes. First and foremost, errors in care are usually responsible for excessive leaf shedding. The plants can be literally cared for to death. However, there are also a number of other options such as

  • wrong watering
  • prolonged drought
  • waterlogging
  • wrong location
  • lack of light
  • too high ambient temperatures
  • soil condition

Pest infestation can also lead to the death of the plant, although Corokia cotoneaster is very resistant to this. Too warm a location is often responsible for the plant drying out. The zigzag shrub prefers cooler temperatures and is therefore only suitable to a limited extent for the living room. It is better off in the cooler conservatory, as a container plant for the balcony and terrace or in the bright stairwell. The shrub simply must not “sweat”.

Pay attention to the first signs

In order to avert damage to the zigzag shrub and at the same time ensure healthy growth, it is necessary to research the cause of a change at the first sign of change. If there is too much dryness, wetness or other faults, various signs can appear such as

  • increasingly occurring yellow leaves
  • also shedding of green leaves
  • hanging shoots, leaves and flowers
  • premature wilting of the flowers
  • Branches lose stability
  • sometimes soft trunk
  • Mold growth on the trunk
  • mold on the substrate
  • musty smell

Increased leaf shedding can usually be a sign dryness being. The plant can thus save water because the evaporation surface is reduced. If there are already many dried leaves, shoots and branches, then the zigzag bush is as good as dead if rescue measures are not taken as soon as possible. The same applies to waterlogging. If left undetected, root rot can progress until the plant eventually dies.

Wrong watering

Probably the biggest care mistake is the watering behavior. The "when" and "how" can very quickly lead to damage to the zigzag shrub. These plants are not exactly very thirsty, which is something to take into account when watering. However, the root ball must never dry out completely, then leaf dropping can hardly be prevented. In the worst case, the plant will eventually wither. Corokia cotoneaster does not just tolerate drought, but also too much moisture. Therefore, a mediocrity must be found when casting. In principle, watering may only be carried out when the surface of the substrate has dried slightly. To determine the thumb test be used:

  • light pressure with thumb in soil surface
  • Indentation 2 cm or more: sufficiently moist
  • less than 2 cm: watering necessary

Furthermore, the following should be observed when watering:

  • water regularly
  • Avoid waterlogging
  • remove excess irrigation water
  • keep moderately moist
  • Planter must have drainage hole
  • Insert drainage of gravel and sand
  • Roots should not stand in water
  • Use of lime-free water
  • water less in winter
  • Keep soil only slightly moist

If the root ball is too moist, the only way to save the zigzag shrub is to repot it into fresh, dry substrate. Liquid fertilizer can also be administered with the irrigation water. Donations are given every two weeks from spring to autumn. However, this should be avoided during the flowering period, as otherwise the flowers may be dropped. Fertilization must also be stopped during the winter.

tip: The zigzag shrub can also be grown as a bonsai. The branches and twigs are shortened and then wired to maintain its bizarre growth form.

First aid for dehydration

In the case of a slightly dried-up zigzag bush, rescue is usually still possible. First, however, it should be determined whether the bush is not yet dead. A piece of bark is simply scratched or a twig snapped off. If there is still something green, then there is still life in the plant. If only a few branches have dried up and the trunk is still slightly damp and green, then rescue is usually still possible. Of course watering is now necessary. However, regular watering would not do much if the soil was completely dried out, since the water would not reach the roots, but would immediately seep through the drainage hole. The best way to proceed is as follows:

  • Fill bucket with water
  • Put the plant in with the pot
  • leave it in for a few minutes
  • when no more air bubbles rise, remove
  • Drain the pot well
  • put the pot up
  • Water can drain better
  • remove dried shoots and leaves
  • possibly pruning back to the root ball

If the pot or bucket is too big and doesn't fit in the bucket, simply place it on a coaster filled with water. It stays there for 24 hours, but no longer, otherwise waterlogging can occur. During this time, the shrub has absorbed enough water. It is always important that the vessels have a drainage hole at the bottom. After the measure has been taken, watering continues regularly. A small application of fertilizer may be necessary, especially if a radical pruning has taken place. After that, the zigzag shrub is grateful for a bright but not too hot location.

notice: The pruning of withered branches and twigs is necessary so that the plant can use all its strength to form new shoots.

Repot when waterlogged

In principle, if waterlogging occurs, only a quick repotting can save the zigzag shrub, if at all. To do this, the plant must be removed from the moist substrate immediately and this must be thoroughly removed from the roots. Furthermore, it is necessary

  • removing any soggy and moldy roots
  • Leave roots to dry for 24 hours
  • Put the plant in fresh, dry substrate and
  • Cut back twigs and branches
  • Choose pot size three times the size of the root ball

The repotted shrub is then watered for the first time after a few days. It is then important to optimize the casting behavior. The choice of substrate is also important. A mixture of is particularly suitable

  • three parts vegetable soil (peat-free)
  • one part each of Akadamaerde, clay granulate and sand
  • some pumice

notice: The condition of the roots is always decisive for the success of saving the zigzag shrub from waterlogging and drying out. These must not be damaged. If after a while there is no new shoot, then the help came too late. The plant can be discarded. However, this requires some patience.

Check location

An inspection of the site is mainly necessary when Corokia cotoneaster shows signs of drying up and loses its true leaves. This can be necessary in the room, but also outdoors in summer. When choosing the location, it is important to take into account the lighting conditions, ambient temperatures and, last but not least, the nature of the soil. Young shoots in particular are very susceptible to strong sunlight and, as a result, excessive heat. In the wrong location, the flowers and leaves can quickly fall off and, in the worst case, the plant can dry up. A few things should therefore be considered when choosing the installation site:

  • full sun to partial shade outdoors
  • ideal light penumbra
  • bright all year round, sufficient light
  • no direct midday sun
  • Shading required at midday
  • Sheltered from the wind but airy
  • no draft
  • high humidity during summer
  • ideal outdoor location during flowering
  • Temperatures below -10 °C are possible for a short time
  • during growth phase temperatures around 15 °C to 20 °C
  • in winter 5 to 10 °C

notice: If the temperature is too high, flowering will not occur.

Kept as a houseplant, a place should not be found in the immediate vicinity of the heater. Shading is essential on the windowsill during the midday sun. However, not only the location has to say to the zigzag shrub, but also the soil conditions are decisive for growth and health. The bush loves

  • nutrient-rich, loose, well-drained, moderately dry to moist soil
  • high humus content
  • minimal lime content
  • pH neutral to slightly acidic (6.0 to 6.5)

Only when the care is right and the optimal location has been found can the zigzag shrub develop its full beauty and become many years old.

The red berries on the Corokia cotoneaster look tempting but are inedible.

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