Ask a question

The Bunnings Workshop community can help with your home improvement projects.

How to care for browning Lilly Pilly coppertop?

Finding My Feet

How to care for browning Lilly Pilly coppertop?







Hi, I have purchased and planted 3 of these Lilly Pilly copper tops about 1 month ago. 

i noticed the next day after planting these brown patches on the underside started coming up and soon after the browning on the tops. 

I dug the whole double the size and filled with good quality soil as we have clay based soil in our garden. 

we have had a few hot todays where I noticed the leaves were dropping so I’ve watered and they bounced back up. 

watering has been inconsistent with the weather being hot and then cold but I have mainly watered when they show signs of needing water so probably every 4 days depending on the weather. 

a few of the bottom leaves have come off but I believe these were after the hot days 


I guess I’m covered with the underside looking like this the day after planting, one plant came up with it first and is worse than the other 2 but the other 2 have the same symptoms 


no bugs on the plants, they have had leaves chewed but nothing drastic 

Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Re: How to care for browning Lilly Pilly coppertop?

Welcome to the Bunnings Workshop community @taylahfen. It's fantastic to have you join us, and many thanks for your question about Lilly pilly care.

How clay-based is the soil? Lilly pillys like plenty of water, but like most plants, hate wet roots. If there is a significant clay content to your soil and you've dug a hole into it, you could have potentially created a basin that fills with water, keeping the roots continuously wet. In high clay content soil, it's sometimes better to build up a mound and plant into that or construct raised garden beds for plants.


When you haven't watered for a few days, and it hasn't rained, you could try digging an exploratory hole down to the bottom of the roots level near the plants. Check to see how wet it is. Then, you can test the water absorption qualities of the soil by filling up the hole with water. Check to see how long it takes to drain. If the water is still there after an hour after, that could be your issue. It is very hard to manage a plant that requires plenty of water on a clay base as if you limit water the plant will die, but if you water adequately the roots become waterlogged.


Let me mention a couple of our gardening experts, @Noelle and @mich1972, to get their thoughts.

Please let me know if you have any questions.


See something interesting? Give it the thumbs up!
Kind of a Big Deal

Re: How to care for browning Lilly Pilly coppertop?

Good morning @taylahfen 

It looks like sunburn to me. They will harden off in the sun. 

Also I would push that mulch away so it forms a well. The mulch shouldn’t be too close to stem like that. 
Will wait for @Noelle  to have a look. Also agree with @MitchellMc 🌿😊

Kind of a Big Deal

Re: How to care for browning Lilly Pilly coppertop?

Welcome @taylahfen !

I am in agreement with all that @MitchellMc and @mich1972 have said. Definitely looks like sunburn on leaves and as Mitchell said you do need to be careful you haven't created a sump around each root system by digging into the clay and then back-filling with a much lighter soil mix. Mulch right up close to trunks isn't good either because as the mulch starts to break down it could induce rotting in the trunks.

Re: How to care for browning Lilly Pilly coppertop?

Thank you so much @Noelle @mich1972 @MitchellMc 


i will investigate the water drainage as suggested and move the mulch asap. 


really appreciate the time you have taken to give advice 


thanks Taylah 

Why join the Bunnings Workshop community?

Workshop is a friendly place to learn, get ideas and find inspiration for your home improvement projects