Boxwood Blight Update

By Bill McCaleb, ANR Agent VCE Halifax As we round out 2023 I thought I would update you all on the research and development that has been going on with fighting boxwood blight around the world. year, there is more good news for boxwood blight resistant varieties both in Europe and the United States. BetterBuxus® is the brand name of resistant Buxus cultivars in Europe, developed for resistance to boxwood blight (Calonectria pseudonaviculata) by Herplant BV in collaboration with the Institute of Agriculture in Belgium (ILVO) starting in 2007. These cultivars were obtained and selected through traditional breeding between different species of Buxus and are therefore considered to be hybrids. There are four cultivars available, resistant to box-blight and each with its own specific applications. BetterBuxus® Renaissance is a low, compact Buxus hybrid. Characteristics are the small, dark green leaves, ideal for low hedges in broderie (parterre) style. BetterBuxus® Babylon Beauty is a low, broad-growing Buxus hybrid. The light green leaves and its strong spreading growth make it extremely suitable as a ground cover. BetterBuxus® Heritage is a compact to upright growing Buxus hybrid. Characteristics are the beautiful glossy, medium green leaves, very suitable for hedges and making topiaries. BetterBuxus® Skylight is a strong-growing Buxus hybrid. The glossy, medium green foliage and its strong vigor make it very suitable for ball shapes and volume applications. These cultivars are marketed exclusively in Europe for historical gardens and boxwood lovers and for the time being will not be available on the open market in the U.S. With the continued research, testing, and international trade hoops that have to be mastered, we can probably look to see these cultivars showing up in the U.S. by 2025 to join the NewGen™ Independence and Freedom that are currently available through some of our better known nurseries in Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Think about Boxwood Blight when you dispose of your Christmas greenery By Kathy Conner Cornell VCE Southside Master Gardener This time of year, many of us purchase premade wreaths and swags from both mail order catalogs and local businesses. We don’t know the history of these decorative items, therefore we don’t know if they may contain some contaminated plant parts. It is highly suggested, that after you have enjoyed your greenery and are going to discard it, that you place the items in the trash versus a compost pile or a discarded plant pile. The mite that carries Boxwood Blight is very small and most likely undetectable. So, it is better to be safe than sorry and risk contaminating your or your neighbors’ boxwoods by improper disposal.