Cherry laurel trees may lose their leaves for several reasons. The dense evergreen shrub, sometimes grown as a small tree, works well as a screen, providing the leaves stay on the plant.
Cherry laurel requires moist but well-drained soil. Otherwise, the leaves turn yellow and fall off the plant if it stands in water for too long. The yellowing leaves are a sign the plant has root rot. Root rot eventually kills the bush.
A fungal disease, shot hole, affects the leaves by creating purple or reddish spots on the foliage. Eventually the spots fall out, leaving little holes in the leaves. The leaves may fall off if badly infected. Leaf spot primarily occurs during wet summer weather.
Leaves that do not get enough chlorophyll experience yellowing before falling off the bush. While chlorosis may indicate drainage problems or damaged roots, it can also indicate nutrient deficiencies. Adding iron back into the soil often corrects the problem.