10 Most Common Sunshine Ligustrum Problems And Solutions

Unlike other Privet shrubs, the Sunshine Ligustrum isn’t as invasive and doesn’t sprawl far and wide if left unattended. Its bright yellow foliage makes for a visually appealing hedge that perfectly complements the rest of the lawn. That said, this sprawling shrub of the Oleaceae family isn’t perfect. 

The most common Sunshine Ligustrum problems are branch dieback, leaf curling, leaf browning, spots on the leaves, leaf dropping, aphids damage, powdery mildew infection, and attacks from spider mites, winter moth caterpillars, and scale insects. 

Knowing these problems puts you in a better position to address them should they arise. Herein is a detailed dissection of each Sunshine Ligustrum problem and how to care for them.

Branch Dieback

Dieback is the slow deterioration of trees leading to their ultimate death. This progressive decline starts at the tips of the plant before spreading throughout. 

Sunshine ligustrums with dieback usually die one or two years after the first symptoms appear.

Dieback stems from poor growth conditions, physical tree damage, insect attacks, or fungal infections.

Most cases of dieback in the Sunshine Ligustrum stem from a mold found in the soil known as Phytophthora Cinnamomi. This mold attacks the Ligustrum from the roots and progressively spreads to the rest of the plant. 

Check your shrub for any withering branches, necrosis on the leaves’ margins, and inflorescent leaves. These are telltale signs of dieback, and you need to act fast to save your precious shrub.

You can treat dieback caused by Phytophthora using phosphite or phosphorous acid. This non-toxic herbicide reduces the impact of dieback on the plant’s structures until it disappears. 

If you suspect dieback on the roots, mix phosphite with the soil. Phosphite injections should do the trick for advanced cases where the dieback has spread to the branches. However, for non-fungal dieback, all you have to do is take good care of your shrub.

Leaf Curling

The Sunshine Ligustrum is an aesthetic plant, and curled leaves significantly throw off the plant’s aesthetic value. Curled leaves result from stress factors that impact the plant’s health. These stress factors include a lack of humidity, dehydration, and fungal infections.

You can sidestep most leaf-curling issues by watering your shrub two to three times a week. However, avoid sogging up the soil, leading to diseases like wood root that could kill the plant. 

If you suspect a fungal or viral infection, consult a licensed botanist to find the best herbicide to combat the infection and other Sunshine Ligustrum problems.

Leaf Browning

Leaf browning can completely shatter your shrub’s aesthetics and is a nightmare for most homeowners. Moreover, the ligustrum leaves’ fluorescence only highlights the browning. 

It’s important to address any signs of leaf-browning in your Ligustrum immediately before it spirals out of control. 

Brown leaves in the Sunshine Ligustrum are caused by:

  • Overwatering
  • Sunburn
  • Excess fertilizer use

Only expose your shrub to sunlight for 6 hours daily to prevent sunburn. Cover crops are one of the best ways to avoid sunlight overexposure, but you can always use shade structures like awnings and shade cloth to do the same.

Also, ensure you water your shrub enough to sustain it until the next watering cycle. Excessive water unlocks the shrub’s air pockets and hinders proper breathing, hence the leaf browning. Soggy soil is a surefire sign that you’ve overwatered your Ligustrum.

Always read the packaging before using fertilizer on the shrub. Excessive fertilizer sucks the moisture out of the plant’s roots and dehydrates it. 

You can counter this effect by hosing your Ligustrum shrubs with plenty of water. Doing so compensates for the lost moisture and flushes the fertilizer down below. 

Spots on the Leaves

Spots on your Ligustrum’s leaves are a huge eyesore. These brownish and sometimes purple spots indicate a fungal infection. These fungi are spread by water or wind and latch onto your leaves before spreading to the rest of the plant. 

For minor infections, prune the affected areas to keep the fungus from spreading. Buy a good fungicide and spray it on the shrub for severe cases. Keep your infected Ligustrum away from other plants to curb the fungus spread.

Leaf Drop

As the name implies, leaf drop occurs when the leaves start dropping off your shrub. Sunshine Ligustrum losing leaves is not only a visual catastrophe but also a headache to clean up after. 

Leaf drop mostly results from abrupt changes in the plant’s living condition. This issue can quickly escalate to sunshine ligustrum thinning if overlooked.

Some common causes of leaf drops in the Sunshine Ligustrum are:

  • Temperature fluctuations
  • Severe pest infestation
  • Underwatering

Mulching can help prevent heat loss in your shrubs to minimize temperature fluctuations. Use an EPA-certified pesticide to get rid of any pests. 

Lastly, ensure you water your Sunshine Ligustrum at least three times a week to keep it hydrated and prevent the leaves from dropping.

Pest Problems

The Sunshine Ligustrum is an easy target for pests because it grows abundantly and contains large amounts of nutrients and minerals from fertilization.

Thankfully, pest infestations are rarely fatal, taking several years before killing the infested plant. Here are some common pest-related Sunshine Ligustrum problems.


Aphids are tiny bugs that suck sap from plants’ leaves. A single aphid does negligible damage, but a host of them is incredibly detrimental to your shrub’s health.

Fortunately, it’s easy to spot aphids and handpick them manually. Alternatively, you can use pesticides for severe infestation.

Scale Insects

Like aphids, scale insects suck sap from your shrub’s leaves. These insects look like white bumps on the leaves of your Ligustrum. Large scale insects may also attack the plant’s branches.

Spray soapy water and wipe the scale insects off your shrub. You can also use pesticides to finish them off.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are a huge menace for homeowners with Ligustrum. These tiny relatives of the spider and scorpion pitch camp on your Ligustrum’s leaves. They also feed on the sap and compromise the plant’s health.

Spider mites are reddish brown with an oval shape. They’re very tiny but appear in clusters that are easy to spot. They also create cloudish webbing on the leaves and branches and leave dark feeding spots on the leaves. 

You can prune and burn the infected parts to eliminate spider mites. However, the most effective way to eradicate these pests is by using acetamiprid pesticides.

Winter Moth Caterpillars

These green caterpillars are voracious feeders that eat your shrub’s leaves. You don’t have to spot one to tell that your plant is infected. Tiny holes on the leaves indicate that these moths have been munching on your Ligustrum’s leaves.

You can spot these moths on your Sunshine Ligustrum in winter, specifically during the cold months of November and December.  One of the best ways to control winter moths is by inviting birds of prey to feed on them.

Tit birds love to feed on these pests and won’t harm your plant. Alternatively, you can use pesticides to eliminate these bugs.

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a fungal infection caused by different species of ascomycete fungi. It shows up as a powdery substance on the plant’s leaves. The powder spores can spread to other parts of the plant or other plants.

Copper-based fungicides and sulfur are effective ways to mitigate the spread of powdery mildew and eliminate the fungus.

Easy Fixes for Difficult Problems 

With a firm understanding of the most common Sunshine Ligustrum problems, you should take the right steps to ensure they don’t compromise the integrity of your beautiful Ligustrum hedge. 

Remember,  proper and consistent care is imperative to the health and longevity of your shrub. Water it thrice every week and ensure you prune any infected parts to prevent the spread of pests and diseases.

Use herbicides and fungicides only when absolutely necessary. Excessive use of these products could harm your plant.