the most devastating pest of boxwoods. Boxwood blight was first diagnosed in West Virginia
on plants shipped from out of state nurseries in July of 2015.
“Gardeners and landscapers need to stay vigilant for the presence of this damaging disease.
Enacting best management practices is your best option to keep your landscape disease
free,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “If you have questions, please
reach out to the Department.”
Boxwood blight was first reported in the United States in 2011. The exact origin of the
disease is not known but has likely spread to North America from Europe where it has been
widespread since the 1990s.
“As with any plant disease, sanitation is a crucial step in dealing with boxwood blight.
Purchase shrubs from reputable nurseries that are legally licensed and inspected by the
WVDA and only purchase plants that appear healthy. Never work or prune your boxwoods
when the foliage is wet or when the weatherman is calling for rain later in the day,” said
WVDA Plant Industries Director Tim Brown.
The WVDA suggests citizens sanitize gardening tools like pruners between different plantings
of boxwoods. Tools can be sanitized either with flame, 70 percent alcohol/10 percent bleach
solution, Lysol or other commercially available sanitizers. Dead boxwood plant material
should never be composted. Once boxwood blight has been confirmed, the infected shrubs
should be removed. Those plants be can destroyed by burning or by double bagging to be
sent to a landfill.
“The first symptom of boxwood blight is dark brown to black lesions on otherwise green
leaves. The dark lesions will coalesce, turning entire leaves brown to straw colored and
defoliating rapidly. Black, angular to elliptical shaped cankers form on the twigs and
branches,” Brown said. “Symptoms commonly begin low on shrubs and spread upwards.”
Potentially infected boxwoods can be confirmed by sending a sample to the WVDA Pest
Identification Lab. Pictures of symptomatic plants can also be emailed to