Tree Diseases Episode 1: Treating Box Blight
With the conditions at the moment being dark and damp it’s vital for gardeners to stay vigilant, and be ready to be treating Box Blight effectively.
Remember, some down right shady activity could be occurring in your Garden!
Box Blight looks like a fungi!
An important thing to note before we scratch beneath the surface is that Box Blight exists as two different forms of fungal disease. These types of fungi seek to infect Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) and its relatives, as the name suggests.
Treating Box Blight early is critical to the survival of your plant.
The more advanced the situation becomes, the harder it is to manage.
Fortunately, the blatant nature of Box Blight makes it easy to diagnose. Regular inspection is the best defence against these little blighters.
What do you need to look out for?
Type 1- Cylindrocladium
This form of Box Blight commonly activates as a fungal spore infection. In the early stages of its development the leaves of your plant will display irregular brown or black looking patches.
As the disease develops any infected areas will soon become leafless. A couple of other distinguishing characteristics are the blackening of any twigs or branches accompanied by the presence of a thin grey fungus.
Type 2- Volutella
Volutella displays its intentions a little differently to Cylindrocladium, but both types produce the same devastating complications if left to expand.
Look out for yellowing leaves adorned with pink splodges. These leaves will eventually brown, wither and fall off completely.
Your buxus could be infected by either type of fungi or a combination of the two! It can be a blight pain in the grass!
No need to despair, we will stick by your side to the end. Here are all the things to consider when putting Blight back in its box.
Cleanliness is next to Godliness
Having good gardening hygiene in general is a solid idea. Whilst these tips are targeted to managing and treating Box Blight infections, putting these rituals into regular practice can save a whole heap of headaches later on down the line.
#1 – Keep bin bags to hand when removing infected twigs and leaves.
Bagging them up immediately makes it impossible for them to affect your plant any further. This foliage is best disposed of on the bonfire. Using this material for compost is an incredibly bad idea.
#2 – Clean all pruning tools before and after you use them.
There are a number of great garden disinfectants on the market for you to explore.
#3 – Wear clean clothes and shoes when gardening.
Make sure you give everything a good scrub after too! Failure to do so may result in you unknowingly continuing to spread the infection.
#4 – Send new plants to quarantine.
It’s a good idea to send any new plants to quarantine for a few weeks before moving it into the garden. This way if your plant has picked up the disease before it arrived to you, it can easily be identified and sorted independently.
Treating Box Blight
Okay, so now we are fully equipped to handle the situation, it’s time to start cutting this blight out of your life.
These practices are best undergone in drier conditions. This way you can gain greater control over the spread of these eager fungi.
Depending on the extent of the infection you may not need to follow all the steps. Seek out the ones that apply to you and go from there.
If you do find you need any advice, feel free to give us a call on 07388 437098.
Step 1 – Isolate areas of contamination
If you have been successful in detecting Box Blight early you will just need to focus on the isolated areas of contamination. Always seek to cut off a little more of the branch than is infected. Box Blight has more than likely spread further than is visible so don’t get caught short!
Step 2 – Consider cutting back hedges
If Box Blight has managed to spread in larger patches, you may want to consider halving the height and width of your hedge. This technique opens up the structure of your plant making it difficult for the disease to reach its usual level of destruction.
You want to eradicate any stems adorning black streaky marks. Cleaning your shears regularly during this process is optimal for success.
Step 3 – Attacking and treating Box Blight at source
For more severe cases you may have no choice but to attack at the source. This is a pretty radical move but it may just save your box.
Cut back any infected areas right back to its stump. This will produce a lot of debris that is still contaminated. Keep those black bags close to hand and bin any waste immediately.
Step 4 – Extraction may be required
It is entirely possible your Box Blight may have spread to the point where it is
endangering other box plants in your garden. If this is the case extraction is your best option.
Take care with removal, remember those ever important black bags and only attempt in dry weather. Be wary of planting any other box in the same spot. The spores of this fungus can live for up to 6 years on leaf foliage.
Can’t Decide on Fungicide?
Whilst pruning is undoubtedly the best defence against bothersome Box Blight, you may decide a fungicide could be of some assistance. Fungicide alone will not do the job, but can help you to manage an outbreak.
Fungicides are best applied to infected areas before cutting into them. Once you have freshly cut branches, reapply the solution to the areas that directly surround the extraction site. This will act to protect you from any areas of disease that are less visible.
Now to keep you Box-ing Clever
Just when you think you have control over Box Blight it rears its ugly head. One attempt at clearing this fungus is rarely enough.
Monitor the situation closely and react quickly if you start to see signs it is reappearing. Not all yellowing leaves will equate to Box Blight, but it’s better to air on the side of caution.
The Blight at the end of the tunnel.
If the issues facing your Boxwood are all too much to bear, there are other options! Plants such as Wilson Honeysuckle or Golden Barberry make fabulous alternatives that are completely resistant to the perils of Box Blight. Making the switch could be a fruitful decision indeed.