What Is the Best Treatment for Box Blight?

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Nip It in the Bud: Identify, Prevent, and Treat Box Blight on Your Shrubs

In this blog, we take a look at:

  • The increasing problem of Box Blight
  • Signs to watch out for
  • How to stop Box Blight from spreading to other plants in your garden
  • How to control and prevent the problem of Box Blight

The spread of Box Blight is every gardener’s nightmare but despite your best efforts, it might still arrive. Becoming an increasing problem, Box blight can do tremendous damage, but the good news is that with the right treatment and plan, you’ll be in a better place to prevent it, or manage an outbreak should it happen.

What is Box Blight?

Box blight is a fungus disease that affects box trees or shrubs. Caused by two genetic types of fungi, Cylindrocladium Buxicola and Volutella Buxi, it’s a lethal predator which can attack the leaves and stems of a box plant.

Signs to Watch Out for Box Blight

  • Box Blight can be mistaken for a box tree caterpillar, so examine your plants closely. Often hard to spot in the early stages, it’s a good idea to check your plants regularly so any affected plants can be treated as soon as possible. This will also help to reduce the spread of infection.
  • Cylindrocladium Buxicola – lookout for patchy areas of brown, withered leaves. Other signs to spot are black striped, or entirely blackened stems and a grey fungus on the underside of leaves.
  • Volutella Buxi – Keep an eye out for areas of yellowed leaves with pink spots.
  • As the disease progresses, the affected areas will eventually start to lose their leaves.
Garden Sprayer

Control the Problem: Use a Good Garden Sprayer

Box blight spreads quickly and can kill a box plant or shrub within days so tackling the problem will depend on how far the disease has progressed. Start by simply cutting back the infected foliage. For larger-scale infection, you’ll probably need to reduce the height of the plant by 50%, or at least until there are no blackened stems. For severe infection, your only option here might be to cut down the whole plant to a stump. Box blight doesn’t kill the roots of box plants so, in theory, they should recover if cut back. 

To kill off any lingering pores, use a good garden sprayer to administer fungicide. Suitable for applying many garden chemicals such as fungicides, insecticides, weedkillers, and moss killers, sprayers come in a variety of sizes but large sprayers such as the Handy Knapsack with 16L capacity are particularly good for applying fungicides to large areas. Constructed from corrosion-resistant materials and designed to sit comfortably on your back, the backpack garden sprayer is driven by a hand pump to produce the pressure and benefits from a large aperture mouth that works to prevent spillages, particularly onto foliage. 

Stop the Spread Throughout Your Garden!

Once you’ve finished your chosen course of treatment, it’s also a good idea to take some extra precautionary measures to reduce the chances of a further spread:

  • Clear up and dispose of infected material to avoid dropping debris around the garden. Do not be tempted to compost.
  • Clean your tools with a garden disinfectant 
  • Remove and wash any clothes worn whilst tackling the infection
  • Take care to remove any leaves or soil from the soles of your shoes
  • Quarantine any new plants if replaced with more box plants in the garden
Box Blight

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

If you’re lucky enough to have kept Box blight at bay, or you want to stop it from entering other areas of your garden, thankfully, there are some precautions you can take to make sure your box plant is as strong and healthy as possible to increase infection resistance.  Check your plants regularly and ensure they maintain a good air supply to thrive and mulch annually in spring or autumn around the base of the plants with a good depth of organic-rich compost.  This will help to improve the nutrient balance and soil structure.  Reduce the amount of pruning you do as this can stimulate new growth, which can reduce ventilation, and only prune in dry conditions as Box blight thrives in moist conditions.

Lastly, always practice good garden hygiene.  Remove all fallen leaves from around your plants, preferably with a garden vacuum such as the versatile Handy THEV2600 and use a sprayer to spray your plants with a good garden fungicide but take care to use plant protection products safely and always read the label and product information before use.  

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