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My Boxwood is not as beautiful as it used to be, what should I do?

First Aid for Boxwood Problems

If your Boxwoods looks less beautiful than you are used to, this can have several causes. First of all, it is very important to find out exactly what is going on. As there could be several causes of which the symptoms are very similar. For example: a hedge damaged by the Boxwood Caterpillar and a hedge that has dried out can look the same at first glance but require a completely different approach to recover.

On this page we are going to list the most common Boxwood problems and explain the differences between them. The first step is the most important one: finding out what exactly is wrong with your Boxwood. After that we will explain the necessary steps to make your Boxwood beautiful and healthy again. We will conclude with tips on how to prevent further problems in the future so that your Boxwood always looks its best.

Boxwood Blight

Box Blight can be recognised in an early stage by the development of orange-brown spots on young leaves. On older leaves dark brown spots become visible, after which the leaf discolours completely. In case of severe infection the plant will drop the affected leaves, after which vertical black stripes will appear on the twigs. Bald spots will appear in the Boxwood if no timely action is taken.

Boxwood Blight is only active in summer/autumn at higher temperatures in combination with high rainfall (or frequent spraying over the Boxwood instead of watering at the base of the plant). The higher temperatures, together with the fact that the crop does not get the chance to dry out, make this the ideal climate for fungal infections such as Box Blight to develop.

Other names for Box Blight are: Cylindrocladium Buxicola, Calonectria pseudonaviculata, Volutella Buxi.

How to Recognise Boxwood Blight

Boxwood twig affected by Boxwood Blight- orange/brown spots on leaves

Orange-brown spots

Boxwood Blight can be recognised in an early stage by the appearance of orange-brown spots on young leaves, dark brown spots can be seen on older leaves. In a later stadium leaves will discolour completely.

Black stripes on Buxus branches affected by Boxwood Blight

Black stripes on twigs

At a later stage, during a more severe infection, black stripes can appear on the twigs.

Withered leaves on the ground caused by Boxwood Blight

Dead leaves on the ground

In time, the Boxwood will drop the leaves affected by blight. If there are lots of withered leaves on the ground beneath the Boxwood, it is probably affected by Box Blight.

Progression of a Box Blight infection

Beginning Box Blight infection - Boxwood leaves with orange/brown spots

Multiple local infections

Box Blight usually develops in multiple different spots at the same time; the photo above shows a fungal infection that is starting in one spot and is spreading outward.

Box Blight infection after a few weeks - affected leaves wither

Affected leaves wither

After a while, the affected leaves will wither and fall off the plant.

Boxwood hedge with a bald spot in the middle caused by an untreated Box blight attack

Bald spots

If a Box Blight infection is left untreated for too long, bald patches may appear in your Boxwood. This can be prevented by timely treatment.

We now know what an Box Blight infection looks like. Although the damage can sometimes look quite severe, with the right approach a full recovery is still perfectly possible in almost all cases.
Would you like to know what you can do to prevent Boxwood Blight, to stop a beginning infection immediately or to repair an older infection?
Follow the link below and read all about our TOPBUXUS strategy against Box Blight.

Boxwood Caterpillar/Boxwood moth

If you can spot Boxwood caterpillars in your Boxwood it is obvious what is going on. Unfortunately, these caterpillars are not always so easy to spot by the untrained eye, or maybe the caterpillars have already pupated when the damage is discovered. 

How to recognise Boxwood Caterpillar/Boxwood moth

Boxwood damaged by Boxwood Caterpillar- gnawed Boxwood with cocoons and caterpillar droppings

Caterpillar damage

Damage by the Boxwood Caterpillarcan be recognised by the following symptoms:
There are eaten leaves, if you look closely you will see leaves of which only the vein is left, the rest has been eaten by caterpillars.
You can see spinning, often with green grains in it, these are the droppings of the caterpillars.

Boxwood hedge on one side still green and on the other side completely eaten bare by Boxwood Caterpillar

Caterpillar starts in one spot

In some cases, a caterpillar infestation starts in one spot: the caterpillars start eating in a random spot and then systematically work their way through the whole plant/hedge, so the damage spreads like a wildfire.

Boxwood moth on Boxwood plant

Boxwood moth

The caterpillars stop eating when they are full and will then start pupating.
A few weeks later, Boxwood moths will hatch from these pupae, which will then fly out and lay their eggs, for example in a different spot in your garden.
A few weeks later, these eggs will hatch into new caterpillars that will start to feed on your Boxwood.
Now that the caterpillars have spread, things can go fast and your Buxus garden can be stripped bare in no time if you don't intervene quickly.

Withered bald Buxus hedge infested by Boxwood Caterpillar

Dry plants - no leaves on the ground

After a heavy caterpillar invasion, Buxus plants can look completely dry and bare. However, there will be no/few leaves on the ground under the plants after a caterpillar infestation, an important difference from a fungal infestation where there will be withered leaves below the plants.

There are several caterpillar cycles per year, usually after the first one there is not so much damage to your Boxwood, but it is important to act as soon as possible because the next cycle will most likely bring more caterpillars into your garden, which will of course cause more damage.
Although it looks fierce, the caterpillar plague is relatively easy to control: spraying your Boxwoodat the right time with TOPBUXUS Anti Rups® / TOPBUXUS XenTari® stops the plague immediately, the caterpillars will stop eating within 1-2 hours after they have ingested the treated leaf. A few days later they die.
Follow the link below for more information on the use of TOPBUXUS Anti Rups® /XenTari® and more tips on how to control the Boxwood Caterpillarand Buxus moth.

Dehydration

boxwood garden with dehydration symptoms

Dried-out Boxwood Garden

Dehydration in Boxwood can be recognised by leaves that turn bronze. In extreme drought, the plant will eventually become completely barren.
The difference with caterpillar damage: If you remove the dry leaves from the plant with a broom, no green will appear; the plant has dried out and unfortunately cannot be saved and will have to be replaced.

dried-out boxwood plant

Dried out Boxwood

Important identification marks:
- Bronze-coloured or dried out plant
- No green leaves left
- The twigs are no longer green inside either.

Nutritional deficiency

Like all living organisms, the Boxwood needs good nutrition. We can say that the Boxwood is a real glutton. It is therefore very important to provide the plants with the right nutrition at the right time.

Boxwood needs a good dose of fertiliser at the right time, every time the plant starts to grow new leaves. It is important to use a fast-acting fertiliser that releases its nutrients immediately, rather than a coated, slow-release fertiliser.

The Boxwood is also a lime-loving plant, which means that the Boxwood needs sufficient lime to be able to absorb all of its other nutrients properly.

An initial nutritional deficiency can be recognised by yellow rims on the leaves, in a later stage the leaves will turn copper-coloured. Give a generous dose TOPBUXUS GROW once and you will see that your Boxwood will quickly regain its colour. In the future, 3 gifts of TOPBUXUS GROW per season ensure that your plants will retain their beautiful bright green colour.

TOPBUXUS GROW is a professional Boxwood fertiliser that ensures your plants get exactly the nutrition they need to keep their beautiful colour and grow healthily.

By sprinkling TOPBUXUS GROW 3 times per season (mid April, mid June and mid August), you provide you Boxwood with all the nutrition it needs. This fertiliser also contains all the lime the plant needs to absorb its nutrients, so giving extra lime is not necessary when using TOPBUXUS GROW.

CAUTION: Always spread the fertiliser granules on the ground under the plant and never directly into the plant; if fertiliser granules get stuck in the plant, leafburn may occur and the branch may die off.

Pro Tip: After spreading TOPBUXUS GROW,  water the fertiliser in for a while to ensure that it releases its nutrients directly into the soil, so that the Boxwood can take them up via its roots as soon as possible.