BOXWOOD BLIGHT IDENTIFIED IN LOCAL GARDEN
26 September 2019
The Chesapeake Bay Garden Club regrets that it will not be making and selling holiday wreaths this year because of the danger of spreading boxwood blight, a highly contagious fungus infecting boxwood and other plants in the Buxaceae family.
For approximately the last thirty years the tradition of spending a day creating boxwood and mixed greens wreaths, as well as boxwood trees, has been a fund-raising project for club members. Customers looked forward to purchasing these wreaths and trees made from locally sourced greens.
When boxwood blight was identified in an area garden, the club obtained publications from the Virginia Cooperative Extension to learn more about this devastating disease. (See Boxwood Blight Task Force, https://ext.vt.edu/agriculture/commercial-horticulture/boxwood-blight.html) One warning especially confirmed our decision - - -
“Be aware that boxwood greenery used for holiday decoration could harbor the boxwood blight pathogen.” (See Note 1)
Some facts noted in the Virginia Cooperative Extension publications may be of interest to area gardeners as they were to our club:
Boxwood blight was found for the first time in North Carolina, Virginia, and Connecticut in 2011.
Symptoms are brown leaf spots that lead to defoliation and black streaking on stems.
Some cultivars can harbor the blight pathogen yet show no symptoms.
Currently there are no cultivars available that are immune.
The boxwood blight fungus can be spread via contaminated spray hoses, pruning tools, wheelbarrows, tarps, vehicles, clothing, shoes, or anything to which the sticky spores of the fungus might adhere. In addition, spores may also spread by insects and birds.
If the blight is suspected, collect samples (stems with black streaks leaf spots or defoliation), double bag and take to the local Virginia Cooperative Extension office for confirmation
The following photos show a mature boxwood infected with boxwood blight and a magnification of the pathogen on a boxwood branch. (Photos from Best Management Practices for Boxwood Blight referenced in Note 1)
A comprehensive set of boxwood blight FAQs can be read at https://ext.vt.edu/content/dam/ext_vt_edu/Boxwood%20Blight%20FAQs_04_10_19.pdf.
For more detailed information visit your local Cooperative Extension office or download publications online from Virginia Tech, https://ext.vt.edu.
Article written by Rebecca Elston, Chesapeake Bay Garden Club
1. Best Management Practices for Boxwood Blight, Version 2, Publication PPWS-29NP, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, September 2016, https://www.pubs.ext.vt.edu/content/dam/pubs_ext_vt_edu/PPWS/PPWS-29/PPWS-29-pdf.pdf .
(accessed September 26, 2019)