How To Save A Dying Boxwood Bush?

How To Save A Dying Boxwood Bush

Boxwood shrubs, with the scientific name Buxus sempervirens, are dense, evergreen shrubs popular for landscaping. They are cultivated for their foliage and are often used to create formal hedges or borders. These plants can grow up to 20 feet tall and can tolerate full sun or light shade. However, they are also prone to diseases and problems to which they may succumb unless treated promptly. If you suspect your boxwood is dying, try following the steps below to revive it.

How to save a dying boxwood bush

1. Transfer your dying boxwood bush to a more suitable location. 

Boxwood shrubs prefer partial shade and need to be protected from high winds. Thus, you should place them in areas where they are not exposed to harsh elements. Transfer your dying plant to a spot where it will be protected from strong winds and avoid full sunlight while it is recuperating.

2. Water your plant regularly so the soil remains moist. 

Boxwood plants prefer moist soil, but to avoid root rot you need to make sure the soil is not waterlogged. Mulch is also beneficial to promote growth and provide essential nutrients. 

Clear the surrounding area of fallen leaves and other debris, as this can promote the growth of fungal diseases. 

3. Prune the plant after the winter season. 

Boxwood plants tend to turn brown during winter, but this is a normal occurrence. They may get frost-damaged during this season, and can also lose moisture. The stems and branches may crack, which could look ugly come springtime.

Prune the brown and cracked branches in the spring to encourage new growth and to help revive your plant. You can even cut the whole plant back to the stem. 

4. Trim the inside of the branches.

You can also revive your dying plant by pruning the middle section, as this is an ideal location for diseases and fungi to multiply. The canopy inside becomes humid when the branches are crowded. Trim the inside area during early spring to ensure new growth and to allow air to circulate throughout all the plant’s branches. 

5. Check for diseases and pests, and treat accordingly.

Boxwood plants can be susceptible to fungal diseases, which could lead to plant stress and death. Volutella fungi could cause orange-colored leaves and decay, while blight and other fungal diseases like Phytophthora root rot could also infect the plants. Pests such as spider mites and box caterpillars can also ravage your plants. 

Sanitize your pruning tools with a mild bleach solution to prevent the spread of diseases. Avoid overwatering, which could also encourage the growth of fungal diseases. Before you provide any treatment, make sure to do your research or, better yet, consult a plant expert. Common treatments may include fungicide for fungal infections and pesticide or neem oil for pests. 

Reasons your boxwood bush is dying 

It is due to diseases caused by fungi. 

Root rot is caused by a fungal infection, and the common signs include loss of foliage, poor growth and bark separation. The plant may also be dying in the middle. Avoid using compacted soil where water can collect or become stagnant, as this exacerbates the problem.

Blight is another fungal disease, characterized by leaf spots, browning leaves and leaf drop. It usually starts when the plants are still growing in the nursery, and can spread from plant to plant through unsanitized tools. To avoid the spread of the disease, clean up the clippings after pruning and disinfect all your pruning equipment. 

It is due to pests. 

Another reason boxwood plants can wither and die is the presence of pests. These include spider mites, leafminers and psyllids. Plants that are under stress become easily affected if there is a pest infestation. 

Boxwood leaf miners can damage plants as they dig into the leaves and create blister-like structures. Severe infestations could ravage the plants and lead to death. Spider mites, meanwhile, feed on leaf surfaces and cause yellowing leaves. Psyllids can cause cupping of the leaves, although most plants can withstand this damage. 

It is due to winter burn. 

Winter burn occurs when the roots are in frozen soil and are unable to replenish the plant’s water. This usually happens during extremely cold weather. Apply anti-desiccant spray to act as a protective coating and to reduce water loss.  

Boxwood plants are low-maintenance and rarely need to be fertilized, but if the leaves are turning yellow they may be iron-deficient. Provide mulch to ensure the right pH balance and to regain the healthy green color of the leaves. Minimal pruning is sufficient; too much pruning could lead to too-thick bushes and can reduce air circulation. 


Boxwood shrubs are low-maintenance plants that are cultivated for their foliage. These evergreen shrubs are prone to certain diseases and pests, but you should be able to revive them by providing their optimal living conditions. This includes an ideal location where they are protected from harsh elements, regular watering to ensure that their soil remains moist, pruning after the winter season, and treating pests and diseases at the earliest signs to avoid severe infestations.

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