Learn / Ask The Landscape Professional
My boxwoods look terrible with spots all over them and some of the leaves are brown and falling off. What's going on with them and what can I do?
Judging from the picture you sent, you have a
boxwood disease called "Boxwood
Blight". I have observed this all over our
area this year. Boxwood Blight is a relatively new disease
that was first noticed in Connecticut in 2011. It
is caused by a fungus called Cylindrocladium
buxicola and is causing major problems across the US.
You will first notice brown spots on
the leaves, which turn completely brown and fairly
quickly drop off. The fungus remains on
the dead boxwood leaves that land on the ground
and infects the soil. Once the fungus is
in the soil, it will remain there for years and
will re-infect any new boxwood that you plant. All
boxwoods are susceptible to the disease and if you
have them in your landscape, it's only a matter of time
before yours become infected. If your neighbor has
Boxwood Blight, you will get it too. The fungus spores
are spread by the wind, animals, birds, contaminated
tools and rain or splashing water from a sprinkler. The
fungus spreads quickly in humid conditions and when
the boxwood leaves are wet the fungus will infect the
So what can you do? Although the blight is being
actively researched, there are no treatments available
that work. Once you see it, you need to remove the
boxwood completely, pick up all the leaves, put it in
a plastic bag and dispose of it by incineration.
Do not take it to the town dump. Until a cure is
found, do not buy or plant any variety of boxwood in your garden.
When I design gardens, I do not use boxwoods for a number of reasons. They are a high
maintenance plant and require frequent specialized pruning. Although you see landscape
companies shearing boxwoods with power pruners
all the time, that technique will damage and
eventually kill the plant. There is a special
method of hand-pruning that boxwoods require.
There are a number of wonderful plants available
that can replace boxwoods. If you need help
with replacement plantings, safe removal and
disposal or boxwood pruning, give us a call, we'd
be happy to help.
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About Linda Lillie
Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier
landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry
service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of
Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national
award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.