How To Care For Boxwood Shrubs

by | May 6, 2015

Now that spring is finally here, it’s important to assess your landscape for any problems.

While this past winter was not nearly as brutal as last year, even an average winter can put your landscape through its paces. It’s better to be proactive in dealing with any damage so you can enjoy the beauty of your landscape all spring, summer, and fall.

Why are my boxwoods turning brown?

Last year many people noticed that their conifers and spruces had turned brown. This was because so many of them were vulnerable to cold and especially to wind exposure. This spring it’s obvious that many boxwoods have experienced leaf die off, and it would be easy to assume that the same forces are at work. After all, boxwoods are in the evergreen family as well.

But are the brown spots on boxwoods the result of winter kill or something more worrisome?

Avoiding Boxwood Blight

Boxwood blight is a fungal disease that is easily transported in the nursery industry and can be moved on infected plants that do not show any symptoms at the time of shipment as well as on shoots of infected boxwood greenery tucked into evergreen Christmas wreaths.

Boxwood blight has become a serious threat to nursery production and to boxwoods in the landscape, which has prompted several states to take regulatory action.

The good news is that, while boxwood blight has been confirmed in a number of states, Michigan is not one of them.  While both winter damage and boxwood blight both cause bushes and shrubs turn brown and, eventually, bare stems, one of the differences between the two is where the browning occurs.


What Damages My Boxwood Shrubs?


Typically, with damage due to lack of moisture or exposure to very cold temperatures, the browning will occur at the top of the bush, above the snow line. (Snow will act as an insulator and protector for plants.) When a plant experiences fungal blight, the leaves will die all over and not in such as obvious pattern. Over time the disease will take over the entire plant and kill it, leaving it bare with blackened stems.

How To Prune Boxwood Plants


Boxwood plants can be carefully pruned of their dead sections and often return over time to their more healthy selves with just a little extra tender loving care.

Is It Safe To Plant Boxwoods?

Again, as of now, boxwood blight is not thought to be a problem in Michigan, but many people incorporate these plants into their landscapes so we at Procare want to spread awareness of the problem before it becomes a problem. Addressing winter damage is much simpler, fortunately.


If you would like advice on how to best care for your boxwoods, evergreens, or other landscape plantings, Procare Landscape would be happy to provide you with advice and assistance. Keeping plants healthy is one of our areas of expertise, so contact us today with any landscape challenge.


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