Boxwood Blight Is Spreading Fast

Infected Boxwoods (Photo credit Virginia Cooperative Extension)

Due to the warm, wet weather of early fall, Boxwood Blight has been observed spreading rapidly. Boxwood Blight is a fungal disease that effects all boxwood species. The damage can be fast, severe loss of leaves, even within one week after the initial infection.

What To Look For

Look for small brown spots on the leaves. These spots will enlarge and grow together, eventually turning the entire plant brown or straw-colored. The key symptoms that differentiate Boxwood Blight from other boxwood diseases are numerous narrow black cankers (black streaks) that develop on the green stems. Rapid leaf drop is another sign to look for.

Mature plants with large root systems may leaf out again, but repeated infections will eventually even kill these plants.

The disease is caused by a fungus called Cylindrocladium pseudonaviculatum (synonym: Cylindrocladium buxicola).

What To Do

Boxwood Blight is not easily controlled in the landscape which means that cultural measure are very important. Consider these steps to protect your plants:

  • Monitor established boxwood and newly planted boxwood on a regular basis for any symptoms of boxwood blight.
  • Clean pruning tools, hoses, tarps and other equipment thoroughly if you suspect Boxwood Blight has infected your plants. A Clorox/water solution is recommended.
  • Remove and discard of infected plants right away.
  • Thoroughly clean the area of fallen boxwood leaves and debris. The fungal fruiting bodies can live in this material.
  • It is possible to use fungicides as a protection. Follow label instructions or hire a professional for this.

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