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Close to home with Mary Beth Breckenridge

Singing the boxwood blues

By Mary Beth Breckenridge Published: May 7, 2014

Lots of boxwoods took a knockout punch this winter, mine included.

They’re left with leaves that have turned yellow or almost white -- not a good look when your boxwoods are supposed to be glossy green or, in the case of the shrubs in front of my house, a pretty variegated green and gold.

In many cases the cause is winter burn, a condition that damages and dries out the plants. But in others, the blame rests on voles nibbling at the base of the shrubs.

Either way, your plants need to be pruned or (sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings) possibly replaced.

In a recent issue of Buckeye Yard and Garden Line, the Ohio State University Extension’s Eric Draper recommends starting by checking the bark at the base of the main stem. If the bark there is split, cracked or otherwise not solidly connected to the stem, the shrub is badly damaged and needs to be replaced.

If the bark connected to the main stem is still intact, you can just cut off the dead parts of the branches. Make sure the tissue around the cut is completely green, Draper said. If it’s brown or off-colored, cut lower down on the branch until all of the tissue is green. That way, the cut will heal quickly and completely.

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