Boxwood Blight: Identification and Management Strategies with Patrick Mawhinney

About Patrick Mawhinney

Patrick Mawhinney is a seasoned professional with a wealth of experience in the field of plant health. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Botany and a Master’s degree in Plant Pathology from Auburn University. His impressive credentials include certifications as an ISA Certified Arborist, Georgia Green Industry Plant Professional, Georgia Lifetime Master Gardener, and a First Degree Blackbelt in American Style Karate.

Mawhinney is the owner of Prestige Shrub & Tree, Ltd., a company that has been providing chemical tree, shrub, and lawn care services to residential and commercial customers in the Metro Atlanta area since 1985. In addition to his business responsibilities, he is also an accomplished speaker and educator, designing and directing seminars on topics such as Workplace Safety, Pesticide Safety, Integrated Plant Health Management, Pest Problems and Solutions, and Professionalism in Business.

When he’s not immersed in his professional pursuits, Mawhinney enjoys spending his free time fishing or planning his next fishing trip. He has been married for 42 years and is the proud parent of two children and two grandchildren.

Introduction to Patrick Mawhinney

Patrick Mawhinney is a certified arborist, plant pathologist, and owner of Prestige Shrubs and Trees in Duluth, Georgia. He has extensive experience in managing boxwood blight, a fungal disease affecting boxwood plants.

Boxwood Blight Overview

Boxwood blight is caused by the fungus Calonectria pseudonaviculata (also known as Cylindrocladium buxicola). It was first detected in the United Kingdom in 1994, in New Zealand in 2002, and in the U.S. in 2011. The disease is known to infect boxwood plants, leading to their decline and death.

Symptoms and Identification

The disease is characterized by dark brown leaf spots, black streaks on stems, and rapid defoliation. It is crucial to inspect plants closely for these symptoms to confirm a diagnosis.

Prevention and Management

Early detection and proper management are critical. This includes removing and destroying affected plant material, practicing good sanitation, and selecting resistant cultivars. Chemical treatments may be necessary, but it’s important to use fungicides that are effective against the specific pathogen causing the blight.

Challenges in Management

Boxwood blight is difficult to control and can spread easily through various means, including splashing of spores, irrigation, and animals. It can also survive in the soil for years, making it challenging to eradicate completely.

Alternative Plants

Due to the challenges in managing boxwood blight, there is a recommendation to consider alternative plants, such as Japanese hollies, which are less susceptible to the disease.


The presentation highlights the severity of boxwood blight and the importance of adopting strict preventative measures and timely chemical interventions. It also emphasizes the need for careful inspection of new boxwood plants and the development of a preventative strategy to ensure the health of these classic shrubs.

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