VDACS News Releases
November 16, 2017
Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Enlists the Public’s Help in Curbing the Spread of Boxwood Disease Through Holiday Greenery
Contact: Elaine Lidholm, 804.786.7686
“Something as innocent as holiday decorating could be a threat to one of Virginia’s most cherished plants,” said Sandy Adams, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). “The plant is boxwood and holiday greenery may contain boxwood clippings that came from plants infected with boxwood blight. Greenery which contains infected plant material has the potential to spread this disease to other boxwood plants.”
Boxwood blight is caused by a fungal pathogen that causes leaf spots and extensive defoliation of boxwood plants during wet conditions. The disease is known to spread via infected nursery stock, it also can be found on holiday greenery. Boxwood clippings in wreaths and garlands can spread this disease which could decimate English and American boxwood populations.
Today, even though a vast majority of gardens and nurseries remain free of boxwood blight, the disease is very difficult to eradicate once introduced into the landscape. VDACS will continue to educate consumers and industry about ways to stop the spread of the disease, but consumers can take measures to avoid spreading the blight when using boxwood cuttings in holiday greenery, pruning existing plants and maintaining plants at household and historical landscapes. Consumers should only purchase the greenest, healthiest looking garlands they can find and remove and properly destroy any boxwood material with leaf spots or defoliation.
VDACS recommends the following steps to mitigate the spread of this disease:
Virginia residents who suspect their boxwood may have boxwood blight should contact their local Cooperative Extension Service office for diagnosis and control recommendations.
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