Box blight is a disease of the Box plant which attacks the leaves and stems but leaves the roots alone…..which is awfully kind of it.
It is a disease that thrives in wet damp conditions which makes it a perfect disease for this part of the world. Box Blight is caused by the fungus ‘Cylindrocladium buxicola’ which has two different genetic types just to make things more interesting, as they both respond differently to certain fungicides.
Since being self employed, I have had several consultation jobs were I have had to advise on the problems of the dreaded Box Blight and each time, I have came to a different conclusion on each occasion. This has been because of differing stages of severity, environment and people. Some have just wanted to rip out all Box and replace with a suitable alternative (sometimes this has been the only way to move forward), others want you to resurrect plants from the dead. If possible, I have always tried to give them more than one way to deal with their situation but unfortunately, there may only one way to sensibly deal with the problem.
When it comes to treating Box Blight, you do have more than one way in doing this and it doesn’t always mean the use of chemicals. I will not give you a complete list on the ‘dos and don’ts’ as you can check these out here at the ‘RHS‘ but I will give you a couple of ways that have worked well for my customers.
The above photo is of a newly planted mini Knott garden using Euronymous fortuneii ‘Jean Hughes’ instead of Box. We was originally going to use Ilex crenata which is another good alternative to Box but decided to go with the Euronymous instead. This wasn’t a replacement planting as these were new beds. We went with the Box alternative as the area has been and still has a bad problem with blight, so to save us having any future battles with the little blighter, we thought something new was the best way to tackle it. This photo was taken last year and the Euronymous are now filling out really nicely.
Cleanliness and good air movement will help reduce the onslaught of box blight and help bring back your plants/hedges to their very best. This includes removing all infected material including all fallen leaves and dispose of them properly, as the spores can knock around for many years. Along with a good deal of patience as these things take time and do not happen overnight, you can avoid ripping out entire hedges/plants and or having to use chemicals. Not always easy I know but being observant and acting quickly and cleanly can often stop an outbreak happening, as they say ‘prevention is better than cure’ and is nearly always cheaper.