Boxwood Blight: A New Connecticut Worry

The Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES) recently reported a new-to-Connecticut boxwood disease, a fungus called Cylindrocladium pseudonaviculatum. Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? Wait till you learn more.

According to facts and photos in the boxwood blight fact sheet prepared by Dr. Sharon M. Douglas, of the Department of Plant Pathology and Ecology at CAES, the disease is as ominous as it’s Latin name sounds.

Early stages of boxwood blight first appear as dark or light leaf spots or lesions, often with dark borders. The spots grow to cover more of each infected leaf causing leaves to turn brown or straw colored. Defoliation is likely to occur shortly after leaf symptoms develop.

Infected stems show dark brown to black lesions, sometimes with a diamond-shaped pattern. Lesions run from the soil line to the stem tip.

The fungus does not appear to affect boxwood roots but, as the plant sends up new growth in response to defoliation, new growth becomes infected from remnants of the fungus. Repeated regrowth and reinfection weakens and eventually kills.

Check out the disturbing photos in the boxwood blight fact sheet of all disease stages or watch this YouTube video.

Boxwood blight spreads rapidly in warm, humid conditions – think greenhouses and hoop houses. It loves temperature ranges of 64 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit (77 being optimum) but can die after seven days at 91 degrees Fahrenheit. It may also live up to five years on decomposing boxwood leaves.

Boxwood blight spores spread by wind, wind-driven rain and water splash and, since the sticky spores easily attach to clothing, boots, tools, and animals, spores can also be spread via human and animal movement.

So, what can one do? Since the disease is newly identified in Connecticut CAES recommends we

  1. Buy disease-free material from reputable nurseries and carefully inspect all plants before purchasing.
  2. Isolate newly purchased plants for at least one month and preferably for several months.
  3. Space plantings to maximize air circulation.
  4. Avoid overhead watering and working among plants when they are wet.
  5. Remove boxwood leaf debris from around plants.
  6. Become familiar with symptoms by studying images of the disease in the links above.
  7. Inspect for symptoms each week. If detected, immediately pull and remove entire plant and dispose of infected material in plastic bags. Do Not Compost.
  8. Stay in touch with CAES for the most current information on control. Of note: Boxwood blight has been common in England and other countries for years and has not been controlled by fungicides.

If you suspect boxwood blight follow these instructions for submitting samples to CAES for diagnosis.

The disease has been found in Hartford, Middlesex, Fairfield and New London counties in Connecticut. Since one of these counties is mine and I already have a fair number of boxwood planted in my deer-accessible gardens (boxwood are one of the few shrubs my local deer don’t yet eat), I’m going to watch my boxwood closely.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Joene Hendry

Books for Gardeners–Holiday 2011

It’s easy to become overwhelmed trying to decide on just the right book for the gardener or plant lover on your gift list. There are so many wonderful gardening-related books from which to choose, so here’s a few suggestions.

Gardeners or homeowners looking to re-do an existing garden or add a new one might appreciate having the winter months to read The Perennial Gardener’s Design Primer. Co-authors Stephanie Cohen and Nancy J. Ondra delve into the ins and outs of gardening with perennials in all types of conditions – soggy, shady, sunny, dry, small, and large. These two life-long gardeners and plant aficionados share their wisdom, which they have a ton of, and offer suggestions for gardens in various color themes and for creating year-round interest. They give step-by-step instructions for creating a new border, expanding an existing garden, and reworking old gardens. This is one of those books an active gardener will reach for whenever germinating ideas for new plantings. Published by Storey Publishing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA An aging gardener who finds it more and more difficult to keep up with gardening tasks will surely enjoy Gardening for a Lifetime: How to Garden Wiser as You Grow Older.  Sydney Eddison, one of Connecticut’s garden-world treasures, shares her experiences transforming some of her extensive perennial beds to easier-care shrub borders as she realizes she just cannot maintain her gardens as she did while younger. But she doesn’t just share her own wisdom, she draws from experiences of other local gardeners who downsized. Published by Timber Press.

Speaking of aging, grandparent gardeners are sure to find fun outdoor and gardening-related activities for grandchildren in Toad Cottages & Shooting Stars. Author Sharon Lovejoy describes hundreds of ways to entice a child’s interest in the outdoors. I know I will reach for this book many times for ideas to encourage my granddaughter’s curiosity of nature. She already loves eating sun-warmed cherry tomatoes she picked from the vine. Lovejoy offers a lot of ideas for cross-generational outdoor activities. Published by Workman Publishing, available through Storey Publishing.

Another go-to reference book is What’s Wrong With My Plant? (And How Do I Fix It?). David Deardorff and Kathryn Wadsworth take readers  through plant symptoms, what causes them and how to remedy them, and organic methods to deal with plant problems. The book goes into basic botany then illustrates the meaning and potential culprit of different types of leaf munches and which flower or leaf spots equate to specific diseases. It even has photos of common plant problems. This book is sure to make at least one trip outside to help diagnose a gardening problem each season. Published by Timber Press as is the authors’ newer book, What’s Wrong With My Vegetable Garden? which I have yet to read but expect is a similarly great resource.

Timber Press also has available what they refer to Michael A. Dirr’s ‘most comprehensive visual training yet.’ It’s Dirr’s Encyclopedia of Trees and Shrubs.  This is not on my bookshelf but I wouldn’t mind adding it to my copies of  Dirr’s Hardy Trees & Shrubs and Dirr’s Manual of Woody Landscape Plants … both fantastic reference books for serious gardeners.

A book I’m in the midst of reading and enjoying is Energy-Wise Landscape Design. Author Sue Reed is a landscape architect who provides practical planting and landscape ideas to beautify outdoor spaces while reducing energy costs. Want to reduce or eliminate a lawn, plant trees to block the summer sun or winter’s winds, or manage rainwater? This book has answers. Published by New Society Publishers.

When it comes to book suggestions I could go on and on. If these ideas don’t meet your gift needs then visit the publisher’s websites … that’s where I’m headed to add to my reading wish list.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Joene Hendry

Leaf Magazine Giveaway. Don’t Wait!

leaf is one of the magazines I  mentioned in my Gifts Gardeners Dig post. You really should check out their inaugural issue … filled with wonderful photos, interesting ideas and informative articles. Liking leaf on Facebook opens the chance to enter the daily giveaway drawing they are running.

Don’t wait. The contest only runs four more days, including today, December 6, 2011. It’s really, really easy to enter. Just like Leaf’s daily giveaway post and share it on your wall.

I rarely enter contests but I found this one intriguing. It paid off. I’m the winner of the Day 6 drawing.

Leaf Magazine

Day 6 Leaf Magazine Giveaway –
Our Day 5 Winner is Joene Hendry!
Don’t miss out today! Anyone who has a small space or loves container gardens will want this prize – a frost proof Italian terra cotta planter from Seibert and Rice and a 2012 The Garden Conservancy + 6 tickets to visit gardens.

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Now I get to enjoy the anticipation of receiving a frost-proof terra cotta Seibert and Rice planter – very useful in my zone 6a region – and Garden Conservancy tickets.

What a great surprize!

Head to leaf on Facebook and you, too, could win one of the remaining daily giveaways.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Joene Hendry