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Avoid Spreading Boxwood Blight in
Holiday Decorations

Advice from Virginia Cooperative Extension


Boxwood blight is a fungal disease that affects the boxwood plant. The disease spreads through infected plant material and soils, and can bring about plant death.
Credit: Courtesy Margery Daughtrey, Cornell University

The Virginia Cooperative Extension, an educational outreach program of Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, is offering advice on how to prevent the spread of boxwood blight through the use of plant clippings in holiday decorations.

Boxwood blight (BB) was first identified in the U.S. in the fall of 2011 and has since been detected in at least 22 states across the U.S., in both nursery and landscape settings.

Boxwood clippings used in wreaths and garlands can spread the disease. The pathogen produces spores that can attach to plant containers, tools, vehicles, shoes and clothes.

The Cooperative Extension offered the following advice:

o Ensure that boxwood plants or cuttings come from suppliers in the Boxwood Blight Cleanliness Program. Nurseries that participate in the program use best management practices to reduce the risk of introducing and spreading boxwood blight.

o Inspect boxwood greenery for symptoms of the disease: leaf spots, leaf browning, black streaks on stems, and leaf drops. Properly dispose of any greenery that shows symptoms.

o Do not use any holiday greenery near landscape boxwood.

o Properly dispose of all greenery once the holiday season is over. Do not compost it.

o Direct customers to sanitize everything that has been in contact with greenery once the holiday season has ended. This will minimize the spread of any spores.

Since 2012, BB research has been supported through the Horticulture Title of the Farm Bill, Section 10007. In FY 2016, this funding exceeded $486,000 and supports research collaborations among IR-4, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station (CAES), Cornell University, Hood College, Oregon State University, North Carolina State University (NCSU), Virginia Tech (VT), and USDA-ARS.

In addition, the Horticultural Research Institute, a leading force in the boxwood blight fight, continues to monitor, support, and communicate BB research activities to the industry.

For more information on the Horticultural Research Institute, visit For more information on the Virginia Cooperative Extension, visit

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October 13, 2019, 6:48 pm PDT

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