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WVU expert weighs in on emerging plant disease affecting boxwoods

A photograph of boxwood blight affecting a shrub. The plant disease causes the plant to turn brown which is what is shown in the photo.

Mahfuz Rahman, a plant pathology specialist with WVU Extension, offers tips to property owners to help reduce the spread of boxwood blight, shown here impacting a mature plant. (Submitted Photo)

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A West Virginia University plant pathology expert is offering tips to help reduce the spread of a plant disease, called boxwood blight, that is currently threatening one of the most popular shrubs.

Mahfuz Rahman, a professor and plant pathology specialist with WVU Extension, has information about how to effectively identify and manage boxwood blight and other plant diseases in landscaping.

Read more about boxwood blight on the WVU Extension Service plant disease page.


“Boxwood blights are fungal diseases that can be fatal if no measures are taken at the early stage of infection. There are two fungal pathogens that cause blight in boxwoods, and it’s important to know which one you’re dealing with — Volutella blight or Calonectria blight. If you suspect boxwood blight, send samples of the plant to the WVU Plant Diagnostic Clinic for diagnosis and help determining your next steps.

“A Volutella blight infection will turn boxwood leaves a light green-yellow color, then bronze and, finally, yellow-tan. This disease also can infect stems, which results in yellowish bark that’s loose or peeling. Unlike Volutella blight, an infection from Calonectria causes dark leaf spots that form brown blotches. Calonectria-affected leaves drop off very quickly, giving the boxwood plant a barren appearance.

“Prune out infected branches and destroy them by burning or hauling them away in a trash bag. Pruning dense shrubs can help with air movement and sunlight penetration. Sanitize pruning tools between each cut. Try to remove all infected fallen leaves and litter.

“Chemical control options are available but will be different depending on which disease your boxwoods have, which is why it is critical to identify the type of blight accurately.” – Mahfuz Rahman, professor and plant pathology specialist, WVU Extension Service

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