A serious fungal disease that attacks the popular landscape shrub, boxwood, has been found in Michigan for the first time, according to the state Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Officials say the disease was found in three locations in Oakland County: a landscape firm, a homeowner's yard and in holiday wreaths sold at a Michigan retail store.
Boxwood blight causes dark brown spots on leaves that speeds up defoliation and sometimes kills young boxwoods.
The biggest risk comes when people improperly throw away infected wreaths after the holidays. Officials say you should consider your wreath infected if it has boxwood plants. To properly dispose of the diseased plant, either burn it or double bag it, the department says.
To prevent introducing or spreading boxwood blight, MDARD recommends that nurseries, landscapers and property owners implement the following preventative actions:
- Buy boxwood plants from reputable suppliers, nurseries or garden centers, and carefully inspect them. If possible, purchase plants produced under the Boxwood Cleanliness Program.
- Buy less susceptible boxwood varieties. Refer to the list developed by North Carolina State University: Susceptibility of Commercial Boxwood Cultivars to Boxwood Blight [links.govdelivery.com].
- Isolate new boxwood plants from existing plantings for at least a month.
- Space plants enough for air to circulate around them.
- Avoid overhead watering and avoid working with plants when they are wet.
- Rake and remove leaf debris.
- Do not use boxwood holiday decorations near boxwood in your landscape.
- Dispose of boxwood holiday decorations by sealing in plastic bags and landfilling.
If you suspect you have boxwood blight, notify your local department here.