Since early 2010, the Boxwood Blight has been slowly moving its way from the Carolina’s to the Delaware Valley region. During this period, our landscapers have noticed this issue at only a handful of our maintenance properties but we want to keep a sharp eye out for this Blight. Boxwood blight has been found in (18) states and is primarily on the East Coast. This Blight; if left unchallenged; in your yard will wipe out all of your Boxwoods!
Q: What is Boxwood Blight?
A: Boxwood Blight is a fungal disease that affects only Boxwoods. This fungus, Cylindrocladium buxicola, is found on the leaves, stems, base, and even the soil.
Q: Why is this an issue?
A: Boxwood Blight causes a blackening of the leaves and stems that will eventually lead to the death of the plant. This fungus, introduced by infected new plants, can spread quickly to older established landscapes. Once the disease has spread, there is no cure for the blight and the plant will quickly diminish.
Q: How is this spread?
A: Boxwood Blight is commonly spread during warm and humid temperatures. In the nursery, many growers have hundreds of Boxwoods growing near each other at a time; and this can cause an outbreak. DiSabatino has been ONLY purchasing Boxwoods from state certified growers in order to ensure this Blight does not come into your garden. These growers must follow stringent rules to become certified and during any inspection; typically multiple per season; if the blight is found all growing blocks are closed down and all infected Boxwoods are destroyed to ensure containment.
In the home landscape however Boxwood Blight is spread through multiple sources. The most common is planting infected materials from non-certified growers/sellers. Another is improperly cleaned pruning tools. When pruning Boxwoods all tools are to be cleaned with an alcohol based cleaner after every plant. Cloths being in contact with the fungus can even spread the Blight; it is always best to clean all cloths once finished in your garden.
Q: What can I do to save my infected Boxwoods?
A: Unfortunately, there is NO CURE for this Blight. The only way to remove this from your garden is to remove the plant entirely; including all soils around the plant and take it to an appropriate dumping site. DO NOT take this to a local dump that will shred the material. The infected plants MUST be burned to eradicate the fungus.
Q: Should I still plant Boxwoods?
A: Yes, Boxwoods are still an important plant in our area and as long as Disabatino Landscaping is taking care of or installing your Boxwoods, we are always vigilant to ensure this disease does not spread on our watch.
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WARNING: This year is going to be a year of plant pest and diseases running rampant, as temperatures and moisture are ideal for breeding and spreading them. Add to that the fact that the past mild winter also allowed for carry over of insect populations and diseases from the previous growing season.
Whether it is plants, shrubs, trees or sod – all of your landscape could be at risk for insect or disease infestations that could lead to costly consequences. Landscaping is an investment and regular maintenance is necessary to protect that investment.
That is why those of us at DiSabatino Landscaping strongly suggest homeowners perform a regular scouting expedition of their landscaping to identify any potential issues with their plantings before they become an irreversible problem. It is an important component of any insect or disease management regimen to directly observe and identify insect or disease infestations as soon as possible.
Part of being able to identify potential infestations is to be familiar with your vegetation’s healthy appearance and the history of previous pest or pathogen problems on your property. As alluded to earlier, many fungal pathogens and pests may overwinter in soil or debris. Nursery plants may also introduce unwanted organisms to your soil.