AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala., May 8 — Landscape installers, maintenance professionals and homeowners are encouraged to be on the lookout for Boxwood Blight, following detection of the devastating disease in newly installed landscape plants across Alabama.
“Once infected boxwoods are planted in a landscape, the pathogen can easily spread to established boxwoods by splashing water — irrigation or rain — or infested equipment, soil, shoes, clothing and animals,” said Kassie Conner of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System (ACES) Plant Diagnostic Lab at Auburn University. “We have had the perfect environmental conditions this spring for the development and spread of this disease.”
Boxwood Blight is an incurable fungus. The disease first appeared in the U.S. in 2011 and threatens to decimate the nation’s boxwood landscapes. Boxwood shrubs are staples in many iconic American landscapes, from the White House and Mount Vernon to colonial Williamsburg and the Pond Spring historic site in Hillsboro, Alabama.
The Alabama Department of Agriculture & Industries (ADAI) is tracking the source of the infected plants. All infected plants discovered, to date, were brought into Alabama from areas known to have problems with Boxwood Blight.
Conner noted plants from Alabama nurseries are free of the disease and encouraged landscapers and homeowners to buy shrubs locally.
“We have several boxwood producers in Alabama that do not have Boxwood Blight, and they are working very hard to keep their material free of the disease,” she said. “We urge anyone planning on installing boxwoods to purchase plants produced in Alabama.
“You have every right to ask where the plants you intend to purchase were produced, especially if they are not clearly labeled,” she added. “Please do not bring potentially infected boxwood plants into Alabama from outside areas!”
Landscape maintenance professionals are asked to be observant of boxwoods, become familiar with the symptoms of Boxwood Blight (leaf spots, black stem lesions and defoliation), and report any suspected detections to the local Extension agent or Diagnostic Lab.
By Jeff Helms
Courtesy of the Alabama Farmers Federation