Boxwood Problems: Is Algae Lime the Solution?

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Every box tree lover knows: If a fungal disease such as the box-tree instinct (Cylindrocladium) attacks, the beloved trees can only be saved with great effort or no longer at all. Even the boxwood borer is feared as a pest. Would not it be wonderful to be able to save his sick box trees instead of sorting them out? The two hobby gardeners Klaus Bender and Manfred Lucenz have dealt with three boxwood problems and came across simple solutions that anyone can imitate easily. Here's how you can combat algae lime diseases and pests on boxwood.

New opportunities for the book: A review

A large part of our boxwood hedges was in a miserable condition in 2013. For long stretches only a few greens were visible, almost all leaves had fallen off in a short time. The fungus Cylindrocladium buxicola, which occurs after rainy days and humid weather conditions, had in a few days, the most plants defoliated. In the years before, we had already noticed some defects and achieved limited success with various means. These included primary rock meal, special plant fertilizers and also a liquid fertilizer for organic viticulture based on amino acids.

Mushroom infected book

The Buchs cube has recovered after algae lime stopped the leaf fall through Cylindrocladium

After only a small improvement in the years before, the year 2013 brought a setback, which made us decide to remove the diseased Buxus. But before that happened, we remembered a visitor to a garden who had reported that in his garden the box trees had become healthy again by dusting with algae lime. Without real hope, we sprinkled our "Buxus skeleton" with algae lime in powder form. The following spring, these hulled plants struck again, and we resorted to the appearance of the fungus again to algae lime in powder form. The fungus did not spread further and the plants recovered. In the following years, all cylindrocladium-treated boxwood recovered - thanks to algae limestone.

Buy algae lime from Amazon

The year 2017 brought us the final confirmation that this method is promising. At the beginning of May, we pre-empted all hedges and topiary plants with algae lime, which after a few days had been washed into the interior of the plants by the rain. Outwardly nothing was seen of the treatment. We even noticed that the leaf green looked particularly dark and healthy. During the following months, the fungus attacked in some places, but remained limited to palm-sized spots. Only the two to three centimeters of new shoots were attacked and he did not penetrate further into the plant, but stopped in front of the leaves, which had a slight lime coating. In part, we were able to shake off the affected leaves and the small defects were grown through after two weeks. Other affected jobs will no longer be visible after the cut in February / March 2018.

Instinctual death by Cylindrocladium buxicola

Healthy book

Instinctual dying is a typical damage pattern for Cylindrocladium buxicola. How successful the long-term treatment with algae lime was is documented by the photographs of the same hedge from 2013 (left) and autumn 2017 (right)

If the photographer Marion Nickig had not recorded the condition of the sick hedges in 2013 and had accompanied the positive development photographically in the following years, we would not be able to make the recovery of the Buxus credible. We bring our experiences to the public, so that as many interested as possible Buxus lovers become aware of the algae lime and thus experiences are made on a broad scale. However, one needs patience, because our positive experiences have settled permanently only after three years.

Prevent the boxwood thinner with algae lime

A further positive effect of algae lime we could observe this summer: On the Lower Rhine spread in many gardens of the corn borer and the voracious caterpillars destroyed many boxwood hedges. We also saw a few small feeding spots here, but just like the Buxuspilz they only remained on the surface. We also found eggs with goats and observed that no caterpillars developed from it. These clutches were in the interior of the Buxus and probably the lime-covered leaves prevented the caterpillars from growing up. So it would not be unthinkable if the use of algal lime in powder form is also successful in the case of the litter problem.

Spread algae lime in powder form

The algae lime in powder form is sprinkled on the box trees in late April and early May. Washed from the rain into the interior of the plants, the coating prevents infestation by cylindrocladium and corn borer.Nevertheless, if damaged areas show up, they are immediately after-limbed and - depending on the weather - are driven through again in two or three weeks

Volutella buxi: Cutting in the spring reduces the risk of a disease

Another threat to the boxwood comes from the Mushroom Volutella buxi. The symptoms are completely different than those described in the beginning Cylindrocladium buxicola. Here no leaves fall off, but the diseased plant parts turn orange-red. Then the wood dies and no algae lime helps anymore. It is important to remove the affected branches quickly. This fungal disease occurs only occasionally. However, it attacks many plants when they are - as usual in the past - cut in the summer.

Damage of Volutella buxi

Cut boxwood

In an infestation with the harmful fungus Volutella buxi, the foliage turns orange to rust-red (left). Since Manfred Lucenz (right) no longer cuts the evergreen shrubs as usual in the summer, but between the end of January and the end of March, the mushroom has disappeared from the garden

Through the interfaces, the fungus penetrates into the plants, which then die in a few weeks. Due to the cut in late winter, about in February / March, an infection with Volutella can be prevented because the temperatures are still low and therefore there is no fungal infection. All our observations are shared in some of the gardens with which we have been in contact for years. This encourages us to share our experiences with a wider audience - and perhaps there are prospects of saving the Buxus. Hope dies last.
What experiences have you had with boxwood diseases and pests? You can contact Klaus Bender and Manfred Lucenz at The two authors are pleased about feedback.

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