Forum home Problem solving

Box not looking very well!

I’ve had these two box in pots by my front door for a few years without a problem. I keep them well watered as they are sheltered a bit by the building overhang but we are prone to a prevailing westerly wind which comes along the coast. I think maybe the very cold winds we had through spring this year may have caused them to be in their current state 😖 I’ve fed them with liquid seaweed (as recommended to me) I’ve more recently tried a multi purpose feed but am just wondering if they’re likely to recover and produce new growth or am I wasting my time? Btw I don’t believe it to be a box blight problem….any suggestions welcome please 😊


  • GardenerSuzeGardenerSuze I garden in South Notts on an improved clay soil Posts: 2,058
    I tihink other forum members will be able to help. The plant in your second photo does not look good. I assume you have also had a good hunt for caterpillars.
  • AnniDAnniD South West UKPosts: 10,421
    If you've checked for caterpillars and can't see any, and there's no sign of webbing, have a look around the top of the compost and see if you can see any tiny green/yellow "pellets", this is caterpillar poo. will also see copious,as frass – pale yellow flakes.&text=You may also notice the,white webbing among the foliage.&text=You may see the eggs,flat and overlap each other.

  • BettyWalesBettyWales Posts: 47
    I have to confess I haven’t done a caterpillar hunt! I thought because the damage on both of the box is on the same side & back as the prevailing wind (one worse than the other) and we did have a lot of wind & very cold nights during spring, that is was likely to be windburn damage. However, I’ll go on a mission and check for caterpillars, thank you for the tip…watch this space!
  • bédébédé Surrey Hills, acid greensand.Posts: 202
    edited 1 July
    I was going to post about Boxtree moth caterpillars, I'm sure there will be many questions.

    I thought I had examined my box trees well before the winter, but they have come through the winter looking like yours but worse.  Some stems completely bleached.  In March/April I looked closely and found a few 1cm caterpillars and a few 3cm ones amongst webbing/cocoons and folded, dead and eaten leave.  I killied these by squeezing.

    The damage on my plants (in open ground, some parterre and different size balls.  Some small-leaved, some big and a few "maculata") is worse low down and in shade.  Also deep within the plants.  Do they not like sun?

    I sprayed thoroughly with Bug Clear Ultra systemic and thought I had killed them all, though they may have just moved on.  My mantra is to prune before mid-summer, so this is what I am currently doing.  (Global warming may have changed this advice.) The pruning has revealed even more damage and cocoons, but non active.

    Today I came across two moths; They are quite attractive.  I may have to do another round of spraying - too many plants just for hand picking.

    I have an excess of Bug Clear for Vine Weevil, does anyone know whether this would be OK to spray on foliage?
  • bédébédé Surrey Hills, acid greensand.Posts: 202
    edited 1 July

    PS.  The reason given for mid-summer pruning is that a later pruning would lead to later growth that would not be winter-hardy enough.  So the wind damage you surmise might be a cause.

    PPS.  I aslo get dead patches, but more concentrated, from cats' pee.
  • Desi_in_LondonDesi_in_London London regionPosts: 607
    bede --- "I have an excess of Bug Clear for Vine Weevil, does anyone know whether this would be OK to spray on foliage?" 

    not sure re the answer to that , but I do not think this is allowed to be used in open ground at all. It is however a systemic insecticide so soil drench presumably as effective as foliar spray for your purpose as long as the caterpillars or potential caterpillars are feeding. 
    Kindness is always the right choice.
  • AnniDAnniD South West UKPosts: 10,421
    I've no idea whether vine weevil killer would work on box caterpillars, but there are nematodes that you can buy.  Bear in mind that it's not just a case of applying it once or twice, it's a long term treatment.
    It also needs to be applied underneath the leaves and right into the heart of the box. When l was getting rid of several box plants l lost count of the number of caterpillars on each one, plus ones that still had to "hatch". They are extremely clever at burying themselves right inside.
  • AnniDAnniD South West UKPosts: 10,421
    @BettyWales have you had a chance to investigate yet ?
  • BettyWalesBettyWales Posts: 47
    Apologies for delayed response not ventured into garden much last few days….weather here is so non-July like and blowing a hoolie everyday! I did have a quick scan after first prompt and confess I couldn’t see any of the pesky beasts! Having said that your comments suggest they’re very good at hiding themselves so maybe I need to look a lot closer. Many thanks for the tips and at least I can take some comfort from the fact it seems quite a common problem. Off to get my magnifying glass 🧐
Sign In or Register to comment.