Box blight— does your hedg­ing look like this?

Bay News - - Front Page - Ginny Clark

“Box” or Buxus sem­per­virens is one of New Zealand’s most pop­u­lar forms of low hedg­ing and has been trea­sured for many years both here and in Europe for cen­turies at his­toric gar­dens such as those at Ver­sailles and the Na­tional Trust in Bri­tain. Un­for­tu­nately our beloved box has been af­fected by a box blight which was first seen in New Zealand in themid 1990s. It has spread through the North Is­land and yes . . . you guessed, we have it here in Tau­ranga.

The blight is ac­tu­ally spread by water splash, thus the rea­son we have been see­ing it so much lately . . . toomuch rain!

The symp­toms of box blight in­clude: ■ Leaves turn brown and fall, lead­ing to bare patches ■ Black streaks and dieback on young stems ■ In wet conditions the­white spore mass of the fun­gus may be seen on the un­der sides of in­fected leaves (place the leaves in a plas­tic bag with a tis­sue for a few days to check)

So what do we do if box blight has struck your beloved hedge or top­i­ary?

Firstly pre­ven­tion is bet­ter than cure, so manag­ing a pend­ing out­break is im­por­tant. Take care as to where you would plant Buxus sem­per­virens (English box) hedge. There are al­ter­na­tive box va­ri­eties which are re­sis­tant to blight such as Buxus mi­cro­phylla (Ja­pa­nese box).

Grow in an open and well ven­ti­lated spot. Prune the hedge on dry days only and to a con­vex rather than flat top. En­sure that tools and cloth­ing are cleaned be­fore and af­ter prun­ing with a garden dis­in­fec­tant ormild bleach. Clean away all clip­pings and re­move from the prop­erty.

If you have in­fected wood prune this out and it is wise to cut out more than you think you need to, no mat­ter­what time of the year.

Start a reg­u­lar spray pro­gramme and con­tinue this right through­out the year. Make sure that the spray gets right up and into the plant and spray the ground around too.

We rec­om­mend reg­u­larly spray­ing with com­bined Grosafe Buxus Blight Fighter & Grosafe EnSpray 99 Oil. Then al­ter­nate with a com­bi­na­tion us­ing Grosafe Free Flo Cop­per + Grosafe EnSpray 99 oil (through­out the year)and add Grosafe Biopower Seaweed Flake (through the grow­ing sea­son). These prod­ucts are all Biogrow cer­ti­fied.

In ad­di­tion Yates Fun­gus fighter, which is a sys­temic fungi­cide could be used ev­ery third spray as an ex­tra pre­cau­tion. Be pa­tient and you will be pleased with the re­sult.

If the in­fec­tion is re­ally bad you may need to con­sider re­mov­ing the plants com­pletely along­with any leaf lit­ter and start­ing again­with Ja­pa­nese box. Sad but true.

Box blight has spread through the North Is­land in­clud­ing Tau­ranga.

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