Topiary yew and box

Alternatives to box

With box plants under threat from box blight and box caterpillar, it makes sense to look at alternative plants to use. Here are our suggestions.

Box is an incredibly useful and versatile plant in the garden. With its naturally dense, evergreen growth, it has been used for centuries to create year-round structure in the garden. It can be used to create topiary, including box balls, to provide useful accents in the garden. Grown into a low hedge, it can be used to edge a border or a parterre.

But box is under threat. In recent years, box blight has become a real problem –  telltale signs include leaves that turn brown and fall, leading to bare patches. You may also spot black streaks, dieback on young stems and spores of the fungus on infected leaves (these may be white or pink). It is caused by two types of fungus, Cylindrocladium buxicola and, to a lesser extent, Volutella blight. It can spread quickly in warm, humid conditions.

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