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A Guide to Box Blight

A Guide to Box Blight

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Our Guide to Box Blight and Box Hedge Alternatives
Our Guide to Box Blight and Box Hedge Alternatives

Our Guide to Box Blight and Box Hedge Alternatives

Box hedging plants (Buxus sempervirens)are an incredibly popular hedging plant which can be seen in gardens across the country. Box hedging is admired for its dense, leafy appearance and low-maintenance nature, making it ideal for formal, low hedges and borders, or as a classic topiary plant.

We supply the versatile Box hedge plant as Cell grown, Pot grown, Bare Root and Root Ball varieties, as well as ready-made, professionally maintained Instant Hedging and Topiary for immediate impact in your garden.

However, just like many other plants, Box plants can be prone to disease so we have put together a guide on how to treat and prevent Box Blight to keep your hedges healthy and looking their best.

  1. What Is Box Blight?
  2. What are the symptoms of Box Blight?
  3. How to Treat and Prevent Box Blight
  4. Other Box Hedge Problems
  5. Alternatives to Box Hedging

What is Box Blight?

Caused by the fungus Cylindrocladium buxicola, Box Blight is a disease that affects the stems and leaves of Box plants. The fungi invade the plant tissue to interfere with its supply of water, killing the cells. It needs damp, humid conditions to spread, so it's particularly common during the autumn months.

What are the symptoms of Box Blight?
What are the symptoms of Box Blight?

What are the symptoms of Box Blight?

Box Blight can be hard to spot in the early stages, but the most obvious symptom is the leaves initially showing an orange or yellow tinge, before turning brown and falling from the branches, leaving sparse patches on the hedge.

In wet conditions, you might notice what looks like a fine, white powder underneath the leaves - this is actually groupings of white fungal spores. If the Box Blight is caused by the less aggressive Volutella buxi, the spores will be pink in colour.

How to treat and prevent Box Blight

Thankfully, there are precautions that you can take to help prevent Box Blight or get rid of the disease if it has already affected your hedging. As it spreads in humid conditions, compact foliage is an ideal habitat for the fungi to multiply, so we recommend the follow to help control and prevent Box Blight:

  1. Reduce the amount of pruning. Pruning stimulates new growth which, in turn, reduces ventilation through the plant.
  2. Only prune the hedge when it's dry, and make sure to disinfect your garden equipment immediately afterwards, particularly before using them on other plants.
  3. When watering your Box plants, only apply water directly to the soil, avoiding the foliage. This will keep moisture and humidity in the hedge to a minimum.
  4. If your Box plant has a minor infection, fungicide is available that can be administered to stop further infection.
  5. Prune back the infected foliage and get rid of all of the fallen leaves, before removing and disposing of the surface topsoil.
  6. Feed the plant with a general fertiliser after treatment, to help it revive.

If your hedge is suffering from a severe case of Box Blight, the best course of action is to remove and destroy the affected plants entirely. Early diagnosis is important as it does spread rapidly and can be treated if caught before the infection has spread too far.

In spite of these risks, Buxus sempervirens is still an incredibly popular hedging option, and quite rightly, too - we have many happy customers who have easily maintained their hedging without any problems at all, so as long as you stay aware of the signs of Box Blight, you can reap the benefits of your stunning Box hedging.

Other Box Hedge Problems

Box Tree caterpillars are the larvae of a type of moth that feed on Box plants. A relatively new issue for gardeners, the invasive caterpillars are particularly common in the south of England but can be found across the UK.

The Box Tree caterpillars eat the leaves of Box plants - sometimes stripping them of leaves entirely - and leave webbing behind. The RHS has some useful information on how to get rid of these pests.

Alternatives to Box Hedging

If you'd rather find an alternative to Buxus sempervirens that doesn't carry the risk of Box Blight, we have a huge range of different hedging options that are just as low-maintenance and are available in a variety of colours, textures and features.

1. Box Hedging Lookalikes

If you'd like a hedge that still resembles Box hedging, Ilex crenata and Eunymus japonicus 'Jean Hugues' are popular options that boast the same dense, glossy green foliage and have similar growth rates.

2. Neat hedging options

For hedges that can easily be trimmed neatly and has small, delicate foliage, try English Yew, Berberis stenophylla, Locinera nitida, Hebe 'sutherlandii', Rosemary or Osmanthus burkwoodii.

3. Colourful Hedging Options

To add a splash of colour to your garden, Photinia 'Little Red Robin', Hebe 'Red Edge', English Lavender or Purple Berberis are all beautifully vibrant hedging options.

There are many suitable alternatives to Box hedging if you're looking to imitate its versatility to create low hedging borders and topiary shapes, so Hedges Direct will be able to provide you with the perfect hedging for your needs.
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