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Mid-Atlantic Regional Reports

Beware of Boxwood Blight

This fungal disease is a death sentence for affected boxwoods in the Mid-Atlantic

Boxwood has its share of pest and disease problems, but many gardeners have been willing to overlook those because it has such dense, bushy growth and handsome evergreen foliage. But now boxwood blight is changing the stakes. Photo: Nancy J. Ondra

From the historic landscapes of Colonial Williamsburg and the grand plantings of Longwood Gardens to countless home gardens throughout the Mid-Atlantic, boxwoods (Buxus spp. and cvs., Zones 4–9) have long been a go-to plant for hedges, accents, and foundation plantings throughout our region. However, a serious new threat has appeared within the last decade—a devastating disease known as boxwood blight.

The disease is caused by a fungus that affects plants in the boxwood family. Photo: courtesy of North Carolina State University

This fungal disease, caused by the organism currently known as Calonectria pseudonaviculata, also attacks other boxwood-family plants, including sweet box (Sarcococca spp. and cvs., Zones 6–9) and pachysandras (Pachysandra spp. and cvs., Zones 3–9). Common symptoms include dark, circular spots on the leaves and black streaks on the stems, progressing to browning leaves and complete leaf drop. Affected plants may try to resprout, but they will be seriously weakened…

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