I recently purchased two topiary shaped boxwoods that I planted in containers to go on my front porch. The porch is completely in the shade. One of the boxwoods is getting brown tips on the leaves and the leaves are droopy. Did I over-water or could it possibly be a fungus?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Rhonda in Kansas: Boxwood are tolerant of most growing conditions in terms of light so the shade should not be an issue. These evergreens are susceptible to various insect and disease problems, but most are not foliar in nature. Over-watering is harder to do accomplish in containers, especially if they have sufficient drainage. The foliage would turn light green and then yellow if this were the issue. Your watering routine will depend on the temperature and humidity, but early in the spring once every few days should be sufficient. When the temperatures rise into the 80s-90s they might need to be watered every day. It is always a good idea to stick your finger an inch or so into the soil to see if it is still moist. Water only when the soil is dry. I assume the evergreen did not have these symptoms when you purchased them, so for it to develop brown tips in such a short period of time I would suspect it is an environmental issue. If you have had freezing temperatures since you planted them, the boxwoods may have winter burn. The browning of the tender new growth is a sign of winter burn. If this is the case you can prune out the dead foliage and the plant will put on new growth in no time. Stem blight is a fungus that has similar symptoms as winter burn, but eventually the entire stem will die back. If you have noticed that the brown parts are spreading you should have a horticulturist take a look to determine what is going on. You can always take samples to your county Extension Office for diagnosis.