How to Know If a Shrub Is Dead?

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Detecting if your shrubs are still alive can help you determine if they are worth saving or if you must simply start fresh with a different plant. Learning to recognize whether your shrubs are still alive by testing them before you throw them out will allow you to improve your garden and help save you both time and money.

Things You'll Need

  • Pocketknife or Nail
  • Get a pocketknife or a sharp nail. Locate the shrub you will be testing during full daylight so that visibility is good. Eliminate obvious signs of life right away, such as bright green foliage, stems, and branches. Greenery indicates that the shrub is still alive.

  • Start testing at the tips of the branches. Utilizing the nail or the pocketknife, make a shallow incision into the branch until you are just under the bark of the plant. Look to see whether the shrub is green on the inside. If the shrub is not green in your first test site, move to sites that are progressively closer to the stem and root system.

  • Inspect the root system for signs of life. Your shrub's roots should be firm and pliable. Dig slightly below the surface, close to the shrub, and inspect the root system. Shriveled, dry, or brittle roots or stems are sure signs that your shrub is dead.

Tips & Warnings

  • Prune away dead material from a shrub if you find that there is a part of it attached to the main stem that is still healthy and worth saving.

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