Incurable fungus found in local garden center nursery

Published 2:00 am Wednesday, March 18, 2015

An incurable fungus that attacks boxwood plants, called Boxwood Blight, was detected in February at retail garden centers in Alabama.

The infected plants were Dwarf English Boxwoods from Scappoose, Oregon and were found at Lowe’s Garden Centers, including Troy. Other locations were primarily north of Birmingham.

“The biggest problem is that once Boxwood Blight is established in the area, you can’t get rid of it. The disease stays in the soil,” said Kassie Conner, plant diagnostician at Auburn University. “The disease does not kill the plants but defoliates them.”

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Connor said Boxwood Blight can be spread across an area by wind and splashing water or rain.

“Boxwood Blight can infect and destroy existing boxwoods, and because it was detected in boxwoods at Lowe’s Garden Center in Troy, it’s possible that existing boxwoods in the Troy area could be infected,” she said.

New boxwoods should be issolated for two weeks to monitor the signs of blight.

“Those who have existing boxwoods should keep a close watch for symptoms of the disease including leaf spots, black stem and lesions and defoliation,” she said. “If any of the symptoms are displayed the plant should be removed.”

Conner said, in order to positively identify the disease, those who suspect Boxwood Blight in their plants are encoraged to send the plants to the Auburn Plant Dianogstic Center in Auburn, 916 South Donahue, Auburn, Ala. 36832.