White Spots on Boxwood Leaves: Causes and Control Measure

Boxwood, scientifically known as Buxus, is a popular evergreen shrub that adds beauty and structure to gardens and landscapes. 

However, like any other plant, boxwoods can encounter certain issues, one of which is the appearance of white spots on their leaves.

In this article, we will delve into the potential causes of these white spots, their effects on the plant, and some practical solutions to address the problem. So keep scrolling till the end.

Identifying the White Spots on Boxwood Leaves 

When examining your boxwood leaves, you may notice small, white spots scattered across the surface.

These spots can vary in size and shape, ranging from tiny specks to larger irregular patches. They often appear as discolored areas on the otherwise green leaves, which can be a cause for concern.

Causes of White Spots on Boxwood Leaves 

1. Fungal Infections

One common cause of white spots on boxwood leaves is fungal infections. Fungi like Cylindrocladium buxicola and Volutella buxi can attack boxwoods, causing leaf spots and other symptoms. 

These infections are more likely to occur in warm and humid environments or during periods of excessive moisture.

2. Insect Infestations

Another potential cause of white spots is insect infestations. Certain pests, such as the boxwood leafminer (Monarthropalpus flavus) and the boxwood mite (Eurytetranychus buxi), feed on boxwood leaves, leaving behind white stippling or spots. 

These pests can weaken the plant and make it more susceptible to other issues.

3. Environmental Factors 

Environmental factors can also contribute to the development of white spots on boxwood leaves. Excessive sunlight, heat, or frost damage can lead to discoloration and white spots on the foliage.

Improper watering practices, such as overwatering or inadequate drainage, can create conditions favoring fungal growth.

Effects on Boxwood Health

While white spots on boxwood leaves can be unsightly, they may not always pose a severe threat to the overall health of the plant. 

However, it’s essential to address the underlying causes promptly, as prolonged infections or infestations can weaken the boxwood and make it more susceptible to other diseases.

Control Measures for White Spots on Boxwood Leaves

1. Cultural Practices

Implementing good cultural practices can help prevent and manage white spots on boxwood leaves. Ensure proper drainage to avoid excessive moisture around the roots, as it can contribute to fungal growth. 

Avoid overwatering and maintain adequate spacing between plants for better air circulation.

2. Pruning and Sanitation 

Prune affected branches and leaves to remove heavily infected areas. Dispose of the pruned material away from the garden to prevent the spread of fungal spores. 

Regularly sanitize pruning tools with a disinfectant to avoid cross-contamination.

3. Chemical Treatments 

In severe cases, when cultural practices alone are not enough, consider using fungicides or insecticides. However, it’s crucial to carefully follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and choose products specifically labeled for boxwoods. 

Consult with a professional or local garden center for advice on appropriate products and application methods.

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4. Regular Monitoring 

Keep a close eye on your boxwood plants and monitor for any signs of white spots or other issues. Early detection allows for quicker intervention, preventing the problem from escalating and potentially causing more significant damage.

Preventing Future White Spots 

To prevent the recurrence of white spots on boxwood leaves, there are a few additional measures you can take:

1. Proper Plant Selection 

Choose boxwood varieties that are known for their resistance to common fungal infections or pests. Selecting disease-resistant cultivars can significantly reduce the risk of white spots appearing on the leaves.

2. Mulching

Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of your boxwood plants. Mulch helps retain moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth. 

However, ensure that the mulch does not come into direct contact with the foliage, as it may promote fungal growth.

3. Avoid Overhead Watering 

Water your boxwoods at the base of the plant, near the soil level, rather than using sprinklers or overhead irrigation. 

Overhead watering can increase humidity levels around the leaves and create a favorable environment for fungal infections.

4. Maintain Plant Health 

Keep your boxwood plants healthy by providing them with proper nutrition and care. Regularly fertilize with a balanced slow-release fertilizer formulated for shrubs. Healthy plants are more resistant to diseases and pests.

The Role of Neem Oil in White Spots on Boxwood Leaves

One natural and organic solution that can be effective in controlling pests, such as boxwood leafminers and mites, is neem oil. Neem oil is derived from the seeds of the neem tree (Azadirachta indica) and has been used for centuries in traditional gardening practices.

Neem oil acts as both a repellent and an insecticide. It disrupts the feeding and reproductive cycles of pests, reducing their population. 

Additionally, it has antifungal properties that can help combat fungal infections on boxwood leaves. 

To use neem oil as a pest control method, mix it according to the instructions on the product label and apply it to the affected boxwood leaves, ensuring thorough coverage. Repeat the application as necessary, following the recommended intervals mentioned on the product label.

Precautions and Considerations

While neem oil is generally safe to use, it’s important to keep a few precautions in mind:

1. Timing

Apply neem oil during the appropriate time, usually in the early morning or late evening, to minimize the impact on beneficial insects like bees, which are active during the day.

2. Follow the Instructions

Always read and follow the instructions provided on the neem oil product label. Different formulations may have varying application rates and precautions.

3. Spot Test

Before applying neem oil to the entire plant, conduct a spot test on a small, inconspicuous area to ensure there are no adverse effects, especially if you are using it for the first time.

4. Avoid High Temperatures

Do not apply neem oil during periods of high temperature or when the plants are under stress, as it may cause leaf burn.

5. Consider Beneficial Insects

Be mindful of beneficial insects like ladybugs or lacewings, which help control pests naturally. If possible, focus the application of neem oil on the affected areas while minimizing its impact on beneficial insects.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the common signs of fungal infections on boxwood leaves?

Common signs of fungal infections on boxwood leaves include the presence of white spots or patches, discoloration, browning or yellowing of the foliage, and leaf drops. Fungal infections can also lead to the formation of black lesions or cankers on the branches.

How can I differentiate between fungal infections and insect infestations?

Differentiating between fungal infections and insect infestations can sometimes be challenging. However, a close examination of the leaves can provide some clues. 

Can I treat white spots on boxwood leaves with home remedies?

While there are various home remedies suggested for treating white spots on boxwood leaves, their effectiveness may vary. Cultural practices such as proper watering, pruning, and sanitation can be beneficial. Some gardeners have had success using organic solutions like neem oil or a mixture of baking soda and water as a fungicide. 

Are there boxwood varieties that are more resistant to white spots?

Yes, there are boxwood varieties available that exhibit better resistance to fungal infections and pests. When selecting boxwood plants, consider cultivars like ‘Green Velvet,’ ‘Green Gem,’ or ‘Winter Gem,’ which are known for their resistance to common boxwood issues. 

Can I use chemical pesticides to control pests causing white spots on boxwood leaves?

Chemical pesticides can be used as a last resort if cultural practices and organic methods are ineffective. When using chemical pesticides, it’s crucial to choose products specifically labeled for boxwoods and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. 

How often should I monitor my boxwood plants for white spots and other issues?

Regular monitoring is essential to catch any issues, including white spots, early on. It’s recommended to inspect your boxwood plants at least once a month, particularly during the growing season. Additionally, pay closer attention to periods of heavy rainfall, high humidity, or other environmental conditions that may contribute to the development of white spots.


White spots on boxwood leaves can be indicative of fungal infections, insect infestations, or environmental factors. While they may not always be harmful, it’s essential to address the underlying causes to maintain the health and vitality of your boxwood plants. 

By implementing proper cultural practices, practicing regular monitoring, and seeking professional advice when needed, you can effectively manage and prevent white spots on your beloved boxwoods.

Rimon Chowdhury

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