Boxwood Turns Orange-Yellow in Winter

Q: My situation doesn’t seem to fit the description of anything I have read on boxwood problems. Can you tell why the shrub is yellow-orange? It started on this boxwood and none of the others seemed to be impacted until recently. Now even boxwoods 30 feet away from this one are showing the same issue. Any thoughts?

A: Boxwoods are beautiful shrubs, but the bronzy discoloration you have is common. Usually it has something to do with the shrub’s root system. Boxwoods have a shallow root system. That means that they are very susceptible to both too much and too little water during the growing season. If the roots have been weakened during the summer, discoloration in the winter is the result. Bronzing can also result from cold winter winds.

Boxwood roots are prone to being burned by chemical fertilizers. Many old-timers swear by feeding them with a one-inch thick layer of cottonseed meal spread under fresh pine straw mulch each spring. The nutrients in the cottonseed meal will slowly become available to the shrubs during the summer.

If you decide that these shrubs are beyond saving, replace them with ‘Green Velvet’ or ‘Green Mountain’ boxwoods. These selections are resistant to root problems, and they do not change color when stressed. Make sure to plant them in well-drained soil to avoid future difficulties.

See Boxwood Bronzing

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