Q. My schip laurel is dying. The trunk base has quite a bit of brown goo.
Can I save this shrub?
I wish we had better news. Prunus laurocerasus 'Schipkaensis' is a lovely, structural plant but also, sadly, prone to a wide range of pests and diseases. The goo that you are seeing suggests that your plant has borers, which are tiny beetles that lay eggs under the bark. There are usually holes and some sawdust as well, evidence that the larvae are mining their way through your plant.
If the borers are in the trunk, there is probably nothing that you can do but remove the plant. (When individual branches are affected, you can remove them without destroying the plant.) The protection of the plant's bark makes treatment ineffective once the borers have entered the plant. Borers usually attack shrubs that are planted in soil that is not freely draining. Amending the soil and improving drainage around your remaining plants will help to protect them.
Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service.
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