Landscape issue- Boxwood dieback
Boxwoods are now known to be infected by a number of plant diseases that include boxwood blight, macrophoma blight, phytophthora root rot and volutella blight. The latest issue is called Boxwood dieback, a disease caused by the fungus Colletotrichum theobromicola, that is a fast-moving, destructive, and, at this time, an incurable fungus. Boxwood dieback symptoms include random dieback of twigs with light tan colored foliage. Affected leaves do not defoliate and tend to stay attached to the branches.
Our Account Managers and crews have been training on how to deal with Boxwood dieback in the field when they see it. To help stop the spread we are disinfecting tools used to prune between job sites. Removing just the affected branch is not an effective solution to the problem, although our crews are removing dead branches during visits to help the look of the plant or plants until an agreement can be made on removal and replacement. Once a boxwood is presenting with the brown flagging, it is likely that other boxwoods nearby are infected as well, even if they are not showing signs of the disease. Boxwoods are typically planted in a hedge for a formal garden landscape, which is why this disease can move so quickly. Our team is trying experimental treatments at no additional cost to see if we can find a way to stop the spread of the disease as well.
This is such an issue due to the number of boxwoods that are in landscapes, especially residential landscapes. Boxwoods have great characteristics including shiny evergreen leaves, slow growth habits, and hedging very well. They were a great plant for many years for these reasons. Our designers are using alternatives that mimic boxwoods in some regard when designing new landscapes. Our Account Managers are also working with Clients to plan to replace affected boxwoods in their landscapes.
Alternatives to consider include:
Dwarf Yaupon Holly
Juke Box Pyracomeles
Party Lights Osmanthus
Proactively putting together a plan and a budget can help avoid unsightly issues that this disease can leave in a landscape that has boxwoods until a treatment can be found.