How to Diagnose and Treat Boxwood Blight

Diagnosing and Treating Boxwood Blight

Boxwoods are the go-to shrub for many homeowners that want an attractive living boundary around some part of their property. The slow-growing evergreen shrub makes a lovely and long lasting hedge row that is easily maintained, unfortunately it can be wiped out very quickly by a terrible disease called Boxwood Blight.

Signs of Boxwood Blight

This blight that infects both boxwoods and their ground-covering cousins, the pachysandras, is caused by a fungal organism known as Cylindrocladium buxicola. The disfiguring organism is also called Cylindrocladium pseudonaviculatum or Calonectria pseudonaviculata.

Boxwood blight will first manifest itself on the leaves of the evergreen shrub (other evergreens are not in danger from the blight, only boxwoods and pachysandras). Small brown spot will appear on the leaves and soon thereafter those spotted leaves will fall off the shrub. The branches which the leaves were on will begin to die next. The remaining leaves on the shrub will turn yellow and plant growth will cease. The shrub will take on a deformed and disfigured appearance and a once neatly shaped row of boxwoods will look as though they have been through a fire.

The Best Defense

Since there is currently no known cure for boxwood blight, a defensive treatment to prevent the blight is the best course of action. Follow the precautions when working on your boxwoods or pachysandras.

* Start by planting boxwoods and pachysandras in a sunny location, never in a shady location.

* Stay away from the shrubs when they are wet. The wet shrubs are at a weakened stage and more susceptible to attack from a fungus.

* Disinfect your pruners between plants by dipping them in a solution of nine parts water and one part bleach for 10 seconds. Scrub them thoroughly with soap and water and dry them before putting away after pruning is completed.

* Always destroy or dispose of boxwood clippings. Never compost them unless you are sure your shrubs are disease-free.

* Clean off the soles of your shoes before moving from one part of the garden to another. To easily and quickly clean shoe soles, wear rubber or plastic garden shoes or boots, then dip them into the bucket of disinfecting solution used for the pruning shears. Dip them for 10 seconds, then dry the soles on an old cloth before continuing through the boxwoods or pachysandras.

The evergreen boxwood plants that we offer here at have shown resistance to the Boxwood Blight disease.

Read our article with more detailed information on What is Boxwood Blight.