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Help needed! Box problems

Hi forum,

I purchased some shrubs around 6 months ago and was advised that they could stay in their pots for at least 6 months. I planted them in compost around a month ago and since almost all of them have transformed to a yellow / bronze / orange colour. I made sure to ensure that the soil has good drainage so the roots are not stuck in water.

Anyway, the plants certainly do not look healthy and I worried they are dying. Some of them were slightly yellow before being planted, others appeared quite healthy and dark green but are now turning. Perhaps there was already an issue with them before being planted?

I have been trying to revive them with plant food and regular water when it has been hot (which to be fair it has not been) but to no avail. If anything they look to be getting worse day by day.

I have posted some pictures before and wonder if someone can help me:
1) Is there anything I can do to save these shrubs?
2) Will the colour improve at some point or will the plants eventually die off altogether?
3) Does the damage appear to be environmental (winter damage), due to root fungus, box blight or tree caterpillar? Or any other ideas?

Thanks very much for your help


  • CeresCeres Posts: 2,276
    Well they certainly don't look happy. It's difficult to know the cause of this but the plants that have turned completely brown look dead and I doubt that anything could resurrect them. This has a handy list of buxus problems that may help you to narrow down the cause but it could be down to a lack of water at a crucial time, frost and wind damage, or even something in the compost.

  • Hi,

    For your reply. The link is interesting, thanks for this. Although it is not much help for diagnosing the issues with my plants. They seemed fine whilst in pots, so perhaps it was the compost / soil they did not like as they changed rapidly. If it was blight or a fungus, does this usually take a while to destroy a box? 

    I am willing to try anything to save them. Is there any product or products I could buy to give it a try? What about a fungicide? If it is environmental damage due perhaps it will get better by itself?

    I gave the trees a shake and leaves are starting to fall. I wonder if the leaves will grow at some point or if it is totally dead?

  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 11,421
    I have to say that the majority look past saving. I would dig a couple up and inspect the roots if you can. 
    I don't think it's down to box blight or box tree caterpillar,but l couldn't say for sure.
    Were they purchased from a Garden Centre, or online ?

  • Hi there,

    A company which apparently grows box was delivering some to a neighbour and I bought some. They looked pretty good but not completely healthy, I assumed it was where they had been newly cut. Anyway I am no expert... It is possible they were already diseased and I am only seeing the effects now. I would be surprised if it were the compost as I bought it brand new and took time to ensure sufficient drainage, etc. Such a shame. Anyway if nobody has any other suggestions I will keep feeding and watering it until it fully dies just in case it comes back. I do not care if all the leave go, as long as they come point I will be very happy. These cost me an absolute fortune!
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 11,421
    I admire your optimism and hope it's repaid  :)
    How are your neighbour's box plants doing ?
  • Good question. They are not so friendly and are in their back garden. I will try and find out somehow... 

    So you reckon it would take a miracle to revive them? It is hard to know how unless I know what precisely is the cause... What a total nightmare. I will stick to mowing the lawn in future.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 11,166
    I wouldn't keep feeding them in case you are overdoing it. Just water.

    Did you keep a note of which company you bought them from? If so, I would email them the pictures and ask for a refund. A reputable company specializing in box plants should respond.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 11,421
    edited May 2021
    Gardening is a learning curve, even for those of us who have been doing it for ... a while, let's say  :)
    It's unfortunate, but please don't let it put you off altogether. 
    Now you've discovered this forum, you'll find that it's a good place to come to for advice. 
    If the plants don't make it, and you want ideas for filling the beds, come back with any questions .

    As regards the plants themselves, this one in particular looks a goner to me
    Personally l would dig it up and look at the size of the rootball, and maybe post a photo on here. Box are (generally speaking) pretty tough plants, and l am mystified as to why they look so sick.
    Your neighbours may not be particularly friendly, but it can't hurt to ask politely if they've had any problems. You never know.
    Here endeth the lesson 😁

  • Thanks for the tips guys. I will dig out the one of them and show you what the roots look like. 

    By the way, I tried calling the guy I purchased from and his mobile is disconnected. Not much else I can do but watch them die. They were totally green a month ago. Such a shame...

    Anyway, does anyone have any recommendations for where I can buy some small yew or buxus and then grow them myself. The larger ones like I have are so expensive, I can't afford to replace them like for like. Any recommendations of someone reputable online? From what I am reading yew may be less prone to disease.

  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 11,421
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