Red Ants Damaging Box Hedging

I have another pest to add to the growing list of threats to a box plant’s health and well-being. This one is the red ant (Myrmica rubra). At a place where I work there had been a lot of head scratching trying to discover the reason why the leaves of single box plants were starting to yellow in a healthy, established box hedge. If it was nutrient deficiency or lack of watering then you would expect to see other box plants in the hedge displaying the same symptoms. The answer was explained by small mounds of loose, fine textured soil…

Mysterious Brown Circles Appearing on Box Hedging

I wanted to share with you a problem someone was having with their box hedging that surrounds a lawn area. Brown circular patches were appearing on the grass side of the hedge and were all at roughly the same height. The owner’s Labrador was being accused of causing the damage so I was pleased to be able to exonerate the dog of all blame. The problem is a result of the hot exhaust on a lawnmower. This is not normally an issue if the gardener keeps moving along the hedge when cutting the grass. The damage is done when the…

Adult Mussel Scale on Box

Mussel Scale on Box

Mussel scale is a small insect that attaches itself to the stems of a box plant and sucks the sap. This can cause the foliage to discolour, turning yellow and orange. If the scale are left untreated the box may start to lose leaves and will have poor growth in the Spring. Have a close look at the stems of the box to see the adult mussel scales. The insect is tiny, only about 3mm long and is protected under a shell or scale that resembles the shape of the mussel mollusc. Treatment with an insecticide spray can be difficult…

Trimming the Straight Lines and Curves of Beautiful Box Design

Took quite a while but finally finished trimming and shaping a beautiful box design. A formal, French influenced design of symmetrical box hedging is softened with the curves of box balls and domes. The straight lines of the box hedging follow two water rills, leading from the top of the garden near the house down towards a square pond. Around the pond is a symmetrical design of box hedging, punctuated with box domes and box balls. A herringbone brick path leads its way around the design and curves at the far end with the box hedging. Box balls fill the…

Woolly Aphid on Box

Between Spring and Early Summer little white, fluffy looking dots may start appearing on box hedging and topiary. These are woolly aphids, a small sap sucking insect feeding on the soft stems of box. Woolly aphids are actually black aphids who cover themselves in white, waxy secretions for protection. Infestations are rarely bad enough to cause any lasting damage to the box so rather than using chemicals, I prefer to brush the aphids off with a stiff brush. Another way to control woolly aphids is to encourage their natural predators into the garden. Ladybirds, lacewings and hoverfly larvae are excellent…