Maintaining Box (Buxus sempervirens)
Box is a very versatile shrub, hence it's common use as hedging and for topiary. Being evergreen, with small leaves, tolerating close shearing and even with scented foliage, box has remained a very popular plant.
Box will tolerate hard pruning, however for the purpose of topiary, clip young plants by up to one-third in May and again as often as is required between May and August. For more established topiary forms clip twice during the summer with the first clip around late May and the second before the end of August.
General care of box includes; keeping weed free around the base, feeding with a general purpose fertiliser such as fish, blood and bone OR Growmore at a rate of 50g per sq. m and 70g per sq. m respectively and then applying a mulch to a depth of 5cm. This will help to prevent weeds and improve soil structure as the organic matter breaks down.
Box can suffer from many problems and diseases, infact to such a degree that it may be strongly recommended to plant a suitable alternative.
By far the most serious disease is box blight which results in bare patches and die-back and is caused by two types of fungi; Cylindrocladium buxicola and Pseudonectria buxi.
There is no fungicide which can kill these, however research is still on going. Only tebuconazole (Bayer Garden Multirose Concentrate 2) has been found to be an effective protectant.
Other problems box may encounter are sun-scald and discolouration due to excessive sunlight and bronzing of leaf colour due to environmental stress such as drought.
Box may also become victim to;
-Phytophthora root rot.
-Box tree caterpillar.
-Box leaf-mining gall midge.
-Box red spider mite.
A box which has all the correct nutrients available in a healthy soil is much more likely to resist these diseases.
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