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Press Releases

March 28, 2019
Wet Spring Could Result In Boxwood Blight
Fungus thrives in wet conditions and mild temperatures
Contact: Michael Wallace, 804.786.1904

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services advises property owners that a wet spring could result in more cases of boxwood blight. Boxwood blight is a disease caused by a fungal pathogen that infects boxwood, resulting in defoliation and dieback. The invasive fungus, first found in Virginia in 2011, thrives in wet weather and temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Property owners can protect their boxwood and help slow the spread of disease by knowing the symptoms. Early in disease development, boxwood blight causes circular, tan leaf spots, often with a darker border. Linear, black stem lesions appear on infected green stems; these lesions do not develop on woody stems. Often the first symptom that people notice is sudden and severe leaf drop. Plants may lose almost all of their lower leaves, with only a tuft of green leaves remaining at the top of the plant, but leaf drop may also appear in irregular patches on the plant. Any homeowner who suspects that they may have boxwood blight, should submit a sample to the Virginia Cooperative Extension office,, for testing. Management options for confirmed cases of boxwood blight range from removal of infected plants, fungicide applications and planting resistant boxwood varieties. All of these options are discussed in detail on the Virginia Boxwood Blight Task Force website.

The following steps are recommended to mitigate the spread of the disease:

  • The most important step to prevent the spread of Boxwood blight is to avoid introduction of the disease to your home landscape.  For detailed information on the steps you can take, see Best Management Practices for Boxwood Blight in the Virginia Home Landscape on the Boxwood Blight Task Force website.
  •  Inspect any newly purchased boxwood for symptoms of the disease, including leaf spots, leaf browning, black streaks on stems and leaf drop. Any boxwood that has these symptoms should be double-bagged and discarded in the landfill. Do not compost infected greenery.
  •  Sanitize pruning tools after usage. In order to disinfest tools, consumers may use the following cleansers: Clorox (or other household bleach at 1:10 dilution), Lysol (containing 70 - 100 percent ethanol or isopropanol), or cleaning products containing 0.5 - 1.5 percent ammonia.

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