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Is this box blight?


My box bushes aren’t looking very healthy.  I’m guessing box blight but the stems haven’t blackened and some leaves look lacey, so wondering if it’s something else.  Any thoughts would be much appreciated.
Thank you.


  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,287
    It could be the caterpillar of the moth which also attacks box. Unfortunately, it seems to be increasingly common in many areas - mainly in the southern parts of the UK

    Have a look here and see if the damage looks like yours
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,619
    My money is on box caterpillars as well. My front and back garden box hedges are being attacked by them,as is my Dad's and several of his neighbours.
    They seem to be on the increase and are quite difficult to spot. If you do see them and try to grab them they can move very fast.
    There are a couple of treatments available including this one which l am going to try
    However, it's not a one off application, you need to apply again in Spring and then again the following Autumn.
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,619
    to give you some idea of the damage and the speed, one photo from 12th August, and 2 photos of the same hedge taken today. This is by far the worst affected section and I'm pretty sure I will be removing it  :/

  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 9,259
    Golly @AnniD, that looks horrendous!  Mine are going the same way and I'm surprised, as you say, at the speed of the damage. If I take them all out my garden's going to look very bare but I'm trying to look at it more positively in that it will save the chore of pruning them all twice a year and I will have the chance to re-design the beds and try new more low maintenance plants.
    I'm more upset about my big box balls though, some are nearly ten years old and looked splendid.
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,619
    @Lizzie27, that's the worst section by far, and to be honest l can't see any way back for it. 
    It's hidden at the bottom of the garden on the path to the compost bins, so it's no great loss.
    I said to my OH that if he really wants to try and save the box then to concentrate on the front garden where there's a low hedge on 2 sides of a large flower bed, and 2 box balls, but he's still thinking about it.
    I'd rather take out all the hedging in the back garden that l can see from the kitchen window.
    The thought of looking at it all Winter is extremely depressing ! 
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,287
    I'd take that out now @AnniD and not be looking at it. 
    Maybe that's just me! If something displeases me, out it goes.
    If only it was that easy with the tw*t of a neighbour at the back....
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,619
    Trust me @Fairygirl, it will be coming out, l'm just biding my time. It doesn't make any difference with that section as it can't be seen from the house, so as far as l'm concerned there's no point in looking at it each time l visit the compost bin over the next few weeks. 
    OH thinks the caterpillars have gone and have turned into moths, there were a couple of likely looking candidates flying around yesterday.
     It's so disheartening, l can't see the point in fighting against it with nematodes etc. twice a year, especially when there are alternative plants we could use.
    He can be a stubborn so and so though, and doesn't want to give up without a fight.
    I've learnt to just wait and let him come round to my way of thinking 😉.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,287
    Not worth it at all @AnniD.
    Perhaps you could accidentally 'trip' while holding a hedgetrimmer..... :D
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 9,259
    edited September 2021
    I think the same @AnniD and @Fairygirl but I have about 40ft of box hedging and 2 box balls in the front garden which of course we look at every day, then possibly more than that in the back garden on top of terracing, another 20ft along the rose bed together with 3 box balls in one bed and two more in large pots either side of the bench. Think I must have gone a bit mad with delusions of country manor grandeur! All looks as though it's infected. My OH also doesn't want it removed so I'm just sitting back and waiting for it to all go brown and horrid, then he'll get the point. 

    I can't physically dig it all out so am hoping if I just cut it off at ground level, it will die off anyway and not regrow.  Otherwise I will have to get somebody in to dig it all up for me.

    I was wondering what stage the caterpillars are at now, if they are already turning into moths should I be getting rid of the bushes now, in order to cut down on the spread of the infestation for the sake of the neighbouring gardens, or is it already too late?
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,619
    I suspect it's already too late @Lizzie27, but l don't know for sure.
    I was speaking to my Dad this morning and he had gone for a walk around his housing estate yesterday. He said there is damage to box plants in every garden that has them.
    My OH went round at lunchtime and Dad's hedge is out and the area dug over awaiting replacements (not box !). I'm hoping this will further percolate into my OH's brain. Once Dad's made his mind up, there's no stopping him !
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