RICHMOND, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- People who have boxwoods on their property should check to see if the spring's wet weather has caused it to suffer from a fungus.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture says the wet weather could result in more cases of boxwood blight, a disease caused by a fungal pathogen that infects the plant and results in defoliation and dieback.
The fungus is an invasive species that was first found in Virginia in 2011. It thrives in wet weather and like temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
VDACS says property owners can protect their boxwood and slow the spread of the disease by knowing the signs of infections.
Early on, it causes circular, tan leaf spots that often have a darker border.
Linear, black stem lesions will then appear on infected green stems, but these do not develop on woody stems.
VDACS says the first symptom people tend to notice is sudden and severe leaf drop, when plants lost almost all of the lower leaves and have only a tuft of green leaves remaining at the top of the plant.
Sometimes, leaf drop may also appear in irregular patches on the plant.
Anyone who thinks their plant may be infected should send a sample to the Virginia Cooperative Extension office for testing. Find a list of locations by clicking on the link in the Related Links box.
If there is a confirmed infection, management options include removing infected plants, using a fungicide, and replanting with resistant varieties.
VDACS says the most important thing to prevent the spread of the blight is to avoid introducing it into the landscape.
Any newly purchased boxwood should be closely inspected for symptoms. Any plants showing the early sings, including the spots and stem streaks, should be double bagged and discarded in the landfill.
Infected greenery should not be composted.
Pruning tools need to be sanitized after use.
For more information on Boxwood Blight, click on the task force's page in the Related Links