Boxwood blight detected in West Virginia

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) has detected boxwood blight at residential and commercial landscapes throughout the state.

Boxwood blight, caused by the fungal pathogen Calonectria pseudonaviculata, is a devastating pest of boxwoods.

Symptoms usually start low on shrubs and spread upwards. The blight presents as dark brown to black lesions on otherwise green leaves.

Eventually, entire leaves turn brown to straw-colored and defoliate quickly. Black cankers then form on the twigs and branches.

The WVDA suggests purchasing shrubs from legally licensed nurseries that are inspected by the WVDA and appear healthy.

Boxwoods should never be pruned when the foliage is wet or when it may rain later in the day.

Gardening tools like pruners should be sanitized between plantings of boxwoods with flame, a 70% alcohol/10% bleach solution, Lysol or other commercially available sanitizers.

Once boxwood blight has been confirmed, the infected shrubs should be removed.

Those plants should be destroyed by burning or by double bagging to be sent to a landfill.

Potentially infected boxwoods can be confirmed by sending a sample to the WVDA Pest Identification Lab.

Pictures of symptomatic plants can be emailed to bugbusters@wvda.us.

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