Expert Advice from UT Extension

Picture of lesions on boxwood blight plant
Lesions like those shown above can appear on boxwoods infected with boxwood blight. The disease is avoidable and treatable, if caught in time. Photo by A. Windham, courtesy UTIA. 

Boxwoods are supposed to be green, not brown. But brown is the color of many boxwoods in Tennessee, due to a disease known as boxwood blight. According to University of Tennessee Extension plant pathologist Alan Windham, boxwood blight is avoidable and treatable, if caught in time.

This new fungal disease attacks boxwoods, which are a staple in Tennessee gardens and landscapes. Most likely introduced from infected plants imported from Europe, the causal fungus was first identified in Tennessee in 2014. And it has continued to plague homeowners, growers and the landscaping industry ever since.

Windham has specific suggestions for commercial growers, nursery workers and landscape professionals to prevent boxwood blight. “Sanitation is extremely important in preventing the spread of boxwood blight in landscape plantings. Be sure to disinfect shoes, shears and hands between jobs and locations. If boxwood blight is found on established plants in landscape beds, the spread may be due to contaminated clothing or garden tools. If boxwood blight is identified on plants in nurseries, the infected plants should be destroyed,” Windham says.

Windham notes that fungicides can be used to minimize the blight in landscape plantings, as long as the plant is still at least 75 percent healthy. “It takes work, money and close monitoring to eradicate the disease in landscape plantings, but it is possible,” concludes the expert.  Contact your local UT Extension office for specific information on boxwood blight management.

For additional information or to get diagnostic help, contact the UT Soil, Plant and Pest Center or find them on Facebook at

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Alan Windham, professor, Entomology and Plant Pathology, 615-835-4572,​