Be careful with Boxwoods

December 15, 2021

Plant Experts from Blandy Experimental Farm Caution Against Using Boxwood Clippings in Holiday Decorating

Plant experts from Blandy Experimental Farm are advising Virginia residents against using cuttings from boxwoods, one of the most popular evergreens for holiday decorating, due to boxwood blight.

Boxwood is traditionally used in wreaths, swags, and centerpieces constructed from materials gathered from landscapes or purchased at garden centers. However, boxwood blight spreads easily and quickly by sticky fungal spores that are produced on infected plants which then adhere to humans, pets, birds, and tools. It infects both English and American boxwood and the disease has no cure.

“We hope you’ll consider leaving boxwood greens out of your decorations this year,” said Chris Schmidt, Blandy Arborist. “As winter approaches, we crave greenery in our homes, on our doors and even in our planters. But boxwoods can carry a nasty surprise.”

Boxwood blight, a fungus that causes rapid defoliation, can be spread to susceptible boxwood by discarded cuttings. The only way to keep boxwood blight from infecting healthy boxwoods is by not introducing new boxwood plants or boxwood plant material onto a property unless they are sourced from a nursery certified by the state to be “clean”. Boxwood blight was first discovered in Connecticut in 2011 and has now been found in almost 30 states.

“Blandy no longer offers boxwood greens at our Holiday Workshops,” said Schmidt. “And to protect our Boxwood Collection, we ask all organizations who hold functions here not to bring boxwood material of any kind -- potted plants or cuttings -- onto Blandy property.”

The American Boxwood Society was organized in 1961 at Blandy by a group of gardeners and botanists who were deeply concerned at the continuing spread of “boxwood decline” throughout Virginia. Extensive plantings of old ‘Suffruticosa’ boxwoods were dying in stages, with the disease moving from one plant to another.

The American Boxwood Society Memorial Garden boxwoods have grown at the Arboretum since the late 1920s. Today the Boxwood Memorial Garden displays more than 100 different species and varieties, all labeled.

Blandy Experimental Farm is a 700-acre research field station located in Boyce, Va and affiliated with the University of Virginia’s Department of Environmental Sciences. Blandy's mission is to increase understanding of the natural environment through university research, education, and public outreach. The State Arboretum occupies the central 172 acres of the property and showcases Virginia native trees, shrubs and wildflowers. 

For more on boxwood blight click here:


For more information, contact Stephanie Swaim, Blandy Experimental Farm Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator,, (540) 837-1758.