Box Blight

Box Blight is a fungal disease that is spreading throughout the UK. It was first identified in 1994 in Hampshire. It is a fungal disease of box (Buxus sempervivans) causing the leaves to go brown and fall, leading to bare patches & dieback. It is caused by pathogens Cylindrocladium buxicola and Volutella buxi.

The effects of this disease can be devastating in a garden especially on mature established topiary and parterres.

Non-chemical control

If the disease does break out in your garden and the plants are mature and highly valued, cut out all affected parts, clean up fallen leaves, replace surface topsoil and treat with a fungicide. For small outbreaks it is best to remove and destroy affected plants.

Any new Box plants purchased should be held in isolation for at least three weeks to confirm they are free of infection before planting out. If they have been treated by the supplier with a fungicides this may suppress but not kill the fungus. By keeping them in isolation technique time will allow for any suppressed disease to become visible.

Chemical control

Currently there are no fungicides available to amateurs with specifically for use against box blight. The Royal Horticultural Society suggest the use of fungicides difenoconazole (Westland Plant Rescue Control), myclobutanil (Bayer Garden Systhane Fungus Fighter and other products), tebuconazole (Bayer Garden Multirose Concentrate 2) and triticonazole (Scotts Fungus Clear Ultra) stating “these are labelled for control of other diseases on ornamentals and could therefore be used legally on box (at owner’s risk) to try and control box blight.” One of the safest option is to contact The Garden Doctors to carry out an inspection if you suspect that any box in your garden may have blight. In addition they are fully licensed and insured to carry out applications fungicides and pesticides.

Alternative substitutes for box hedging:

Berberis microphylla ‘Pygmaea’

Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea ‘Atropurpurea Nana’ AGM

Euonymus fortunei (various cultivars)

Japanese holly (Ilex crenata)

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Boxleaf honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Words & Images © Kat Weatherill