Boxwood Woes: Dealing with Damage in Your Garden 

At Wasson Nursery, we take immense pride in our work, your landscape, and understand the importance of ensuring its vitality and longevity. We are aware of emerging issues with a very popular plant in our region’s landscapes, the Boxwood. We know the importance of ensuring information we put out is from an expert source. Because of this we interviewed Tom Creswell, PhD, Director of the Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory of Purdue University. In this article, we share Dr. Creswell’s insights on safeguarding your Boxwoods and preserving their aesthetic appeal as well as information about what we can do to help here at Wasson Nursery.

Photo By: Purdue UniversityTip damage due to cold temperatures

Photo By: Purdue University Tip damage due to cold temperatures

Varietal Distinctions and Resilience
Creswell noted, “There may be some varietal differences. It may be that some Boxwoods, different varieties, may have done better than others.” While specific varietal data may be lacking for this year, this underscores the importance of understanding the unique characteristics of your Boxwoods. Here at Wasson Nursery we typically use Green Velvet, Green Gem and Green Mountain varieties because they are known to tolerate conditions in our region, according to Mike McDaniel, Wasson Nursery Landscape Designer with a focus on Softscape and Maintenance.

Thriving in Stress-Free Conditions
One of Dr. Creswell’s key observations is that “those that didn’t have any real stress factors tended to survive better.” This emphasizes the crucial role of maintaining your Boxwoods in stress-free conditions, especially during the transition from autumn to winter. A warm, late fall followed by the harsh winter temperatures we experienced last year can weaken the immunity a plant has to fungi or disease that would not otherwise affect it. Ensuring they are well-hydrated and receiving proper care can significantly enhance their ability to withstand the cold.

The Art of Pruning Techniques
Many clients like their Boxwoods sheared in the popular styles seen on most properties. Pruning practices play a profound role in shaping the resilience of your Boxwoods. According to Creswell, “Boxwoods that are sheared very tightly in a formal shape tend to have more problems than Boxwoods that are shaped with individual cuts.” This suggests that adopting a gentler pruning approach can lead to fewer wounds, making your Boxwoods less susceptible to winter damage. Another option is to cover your Shrubs with some type of cloth if we are going to have winter burn and desiccation in the leaves if we are experiencing unusual weather patterns.

Photo by: Purdue University Boxwood with Volutella dieback

Photo by: Purdue University
Boxwood with Volutella dieback

Understanding Common Diseases: Volutella Blight
Among the challenges that boxwoods may face, one of the most common is Volutella Blight and dieback. This condition is caused by fungi known as Pseudonectria buxi. This fungus is generally considered a weak pathogen, causing occasional dieback, but generally not much problem on otherwise healthy Boxwoods.

Volutella Blight, on its own, typically doesn’t lead to sickly or dying boxwoods. However, it can result in the loss of branches, which can severely affect the symmetry and ornamental value of these beautiful shrubs. Your team at Wasson Nursery can help you identify the Volutella Blight and remove the affected areas properly, but preventative care is best.

Preserving the Aesthetic Appeal
While Volutella Blight may not be an immediate threat to the survival of your Boxwoods, it does underscore the importance of proactive care and maintenance. At Wasson Nursery, we are dedicated to helping you protect the aesthetic appeal of your landscape. Our expert team can identify and address issues like Volutella Blight, ensuring that your Boxwoods continue to grace your garden.

In conclusion, safeguarding your Boxwoods requires a holistic approach that considers stress factors and care. By heeding the advice of experts like Dr. Tom Creswell, and those found at the Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory of Purdue University and consistently working with your trusted landscaper, you can be confident that your beloved Boxwoods will stand the test of time and be a healthy staple of your landscape.

Take a look at your Boxwoods and if you are having issues give us a call at 765-759-9000 or Schedule Now for one of our Tree and Shrub Technicians to take a look and help you work through solutions. If you love the way Boxwood’s look and want to see them in your Landscape Design you can also schedule an appointment for a free consultation to get started on your project.

We want to give a huge thank you to Dr. Tom Creswell, Director of the Plant & Pest Diagnostic Laboratory of Purdue University and his team. Please check out these articles they have provided for more information on this subject as well as many others that pertain to the health of your Better Backyard.


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