English Dwarf Boxwood Dying One by One

mmayerctNovember 12, 2011

I have four parterres about 6' x 4' each with roses surrounded by a boxwood low sheared hedge. The parterres are raised, they are in full-to-medium sun, and they are irrigated. The boxwood shrubs were originally planted about a foot apart. I sheared them by hand once a season-- wider on the bottom than the top. I did not thin them (unfortunately). They did great for 6 years. Now one-by-one they are dying in one parterre. They go from dark green to light green to yellow to death. Probably phytophthora? I'm desperate to save what I can. I've moved the remaining box to another area. Have tried drenching the parterre with Infuse systemic. no luck. Heard subdue maxx might work, but costs a fortune. 2 questions: can I prevent this from happening in the other parterres. What do I replace the box that died with?? I've read you can't replace with box in the same bed. What about another variety? Am desperate to save my investment.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


PLEASE put away the chemicals.. UNTIL YOU DIAGNOSE the actual problem ...

i am not adverse to nuclear warfare.. but i do not do it willy nilly ...

we need pix ...

have you contacted your county extension office ???

do you fertilize heavily .. or at all ...

any adverse weather this summer???


what do you find when you pull out a dead one.. did you expand circling roots when buying potted stock ...

have you ever had a soil test done ...

what is your ambient soil type ... is drainage an issue???

as you can see.. you have barely given us much info to go forward.. we want to help .. but we need 'fact' .. to move forward.. and pix.. check out the link ...

good luck


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 9:45AM
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Embothrium(USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA)

An example of one of the pitfalls of planting formal arrangements, where their are plants that must all remain identical. As stated finding out what, specifically is happening is necessary before effective response is possible.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 2:02PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

If you need how-to post-images info, look here

Here is a link that might be useful: how to post images

    Bookmark   November 13, 2011 at 5:12PM
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Here are photos. Note, the ones that have died completely are gone. They were completely straw-colored. What happens is a dark green shrub gets tinged with orange (note this is not winterkill, it happened in warm weather), the orange spreads and becomes lighter and lighter until completely straw-colored and the plant is completely dead.This continues to adjacent shrubs. I have 4 parterres and now I see it starting in another parterre. A few weeks ago I transplanted some of the shrubs that have not yet succumbed in an attempt to save them. So far so good. I really think this is something in the soil.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 1:34PM
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    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 1:38PM
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    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 1:40PM
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    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 1:41PM
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    Bookmark   November 19, 2011 at 1:43PM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

It sounds a lot like Box Blight. Do you get that in the US? Look at the link and see what you think.

Here is a link that might be useful: Box Blight

    Bookmark   November 20, 2011 at 7:20AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Just wanted to comment on the irony - you want yours to be healthy and keep living while I've spent many hours trying to kill some of these things at my Mom's house. We hate these bushes with a passion and they are nearly impossible to kill when healthy (no chemicals, just manual efforts.) We have to keep trimming them so she can open the gate to her fence. Sigh! I hope you figure out what is going on and how to fix it. Good luck!

Nice job on posting pics. Usually you can put more than 1 pic in a post if you want. Something to keep in mind to try next time if you want to.

OT: Curious... did you remove the zone info from your profile? In the first entry, it says zone 5 but it's blank on the rest of your entries and there is no zone when I click your name to see your profile. You're welcome to manage things as you see fit, but I'm just curious if this site is having zone gremlins again or if this situation was of your doing.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2011 at 10:12AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

have you had a recent soil test.. to find out if all the brick is somehow adversely effecting the soil???

where are you ...

is reflected winter sun an issue .... i have had a lot of trouble.. over the years... planting in and around surfaces that retain and reflect heat .... it affects heat.. humidity ... etc .... even retaining heat.. late into the night.. when a plant should be recovering from the stress of the day ... and severely stressed plants.. are the ones that are attacked by disease and bugs.. so even if such is there.. and even if you solve that type of issue.. you are left with a severely stressed plant ...

i had a brick patio ... at the old house.. and in dec in z5 MI ... on a sunny day.. you could walk around on it at midnight bare foot .. because it was still so hot ....

i dont think you will come to any definitive answer.. and i think the answer.. short of a soil problem .. is that the micro climate created by the brick.. is not favorable to the plant you are trying to grow.. not a lot of help, is it.. lol ...


    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 9:02AM
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Hi Mmayerct, edging boxwood used to be popular here especially for knot gardens. Search 'boxwood decline' to see why boxwood has fallen out of favor.
Ilex crenata 'Helleri' is a suitable substitute for us, not sure if it will work in your zone.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2011 at 1:37PM
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I'm zone 6a. Sending my samples out for testing this week. Will let you know what the experts find out. Thank you all for your tips. btw, the shrubs I moved still look healthy. Very interesting the comment about the brick environment. Could be a factor. the site is very sunny, although the one parterre that is most effected has a bit more shade. Doesn't Williamsburg have lots of brick and box? I know they've had problems over the years too. I do think this summer had lots of rain and the shrubs have been sheared over the years I just think there was not enough air circulation around the shrubs. Oh well. Sam, ilex crenata looks like a wonderful alternative. Thank you.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2011 at 8:03PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

this circumstance.. is precisely why i .. in my garden career ... veered away from anything considered a formal garden ...

it seems the day after you perfect the formality.. stuff starts happening.. and you loss 5 years of work.. over some weirdness ...

live your dreams.. but understand.. in my garden.. i would give up on it all .. and start researching alternatives that do not involve plants i had to shear a couple times of year ... nor plants that develop problems as they mature ...

your brickscape is stunning... and there are a bazillion options to use that scape.. w/o boxwood ...

there i said it.. lol ...

i wish you all the luck in the world.. whatever plants you wish to grow. ..


    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 8:48AM
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Hi Mmayerct,
Check out Bottan's post on the tree forum for an alternative to boxwood.

Here is a link that might be useful: Boxwood alternative

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 9:09AM
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Unfortunately, boxwood blight, mentioned above by Flora UK, is now in CT.
I would contact CT Experiment Station for help with definitive ID and to find out proper disposal so as to not spread it further.
From UMass Ag extention:
In October 2011, boxwood blight (Cylindrocladium pseudonaviculatum) was positively identified in Connecticut. This is the first confirmed incidence of boxwood blight in the United States. According to USDA APHIS, the disease was almost simultaneously identified in North Carolina and Virginia as well.

Here is a link that might be useful: CT Ag Exp Station fact sheet on boxwood blight

    Bookmark   December 11, 2011 at 11:10AM
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Just as a follow-up, had the plants and soil tested. It's the dreaded phytophthora, a root disease. As I found out I had a leak in my drip line in one of the 4 parterres, plus it was an exceptionally wet summer that year. There is sadly no cure, only control. I'm temporarily using Actinovate until I figure out what plant to use as a replacement. Still searching for that right plant--- ilex, no- will be susceptible to same problem because the soil is contaminated; germander, no- too messy; skimmia, no- site is too sunny. I put lavender in the one empty bed and that is doing well, but not sure that is a long term solution (gets woody when the plants age, right?). My latest thought is thyme.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2013 at 9:18PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Thanks for the update.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 9:09PM
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Another update. My Munstead lavender is still performing well in one parterre where I lost all my boxwood due to Phytophthera. The lavender survived a harsh Connecticut winter beautifully. Still would love to save the remaining boxwood. Someone suggested replacing all the soil in the parterres and replace with new soil. Seems extreme, but I'm willing to try anything, Has anyone ever done this??

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 10:47PM
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I'm wondering if you have come up with anything other than lavender. I do have the dreaded box blight, and have lost 113 dwarf English box bordering my perennial gardens. Now the larger ones are getting it too. I'm looking at the Ilex crenata varities, but they are large- smallest is soft touch. I to am in Ct but have trouble wintering lavender. I'm considering replacing soil to replant the box. Problem is, it has spread all around the property, not just in one bed. Help!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 5:52PM
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