NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

February 15, 2012

Tim's Tips: Battling Boxwood Blight

Every once in a while, I will receive a notice about a "new" plant disease that has been found in Massachusetts. The information I received was from the University of Massachusetts Extension School. The plant disease is called boxwood blight.

In December, plant samples identified that this disease had been found in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

The disease was first identified in the United Kingdom in the mid-1990s. No one seems to be quite sure how it made its way into New England.

The disease appears as a light or dark brown circular spot on the leaves of the boxwood. The stems and twigs may be infected as well. The disease doesn't necessarily kill the plant, but it will cause such a major loss of leaves that the plant will no longer be desirable to have in your landscape.

The disease is spread by rainfall or by irrigation use on the plants.

Right now, it appears that there are two major varieties of boxwood that are affected by this disease.

The English boxwood (Buxus sempervirens Suffruticosa) and the common boxwood (Buxus Sempervirens). This disease may also infect other varieties, but it appears that these two are the most susceptible.

Unfortunately, these two varieties have been extensively planted in our area.

I did not see any indication of this disease last fall, but it may show up this spring. At this point, I have not heard if there is any type of fungicide that can be sprayed on the plants to prevent the spread of this disease. Right now, the feeling is that you should not purchase these two varieties or transplant them from unknown sources. At this point, the other varieties of boxwood are safe to use in our landscapes.

You can get more information by going to the following web site http:// extension.umass.edu/landscape/news/boxwood-blight-found-connecticut

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