Boxwoods turning yellow is a worrying issue because most likely it is caused of diseases, pests or poor maintenance. All of these conditions put the plant under stress and the result is discoloration accompanied by wilting.

Boxwoods Turning Yellow

If you are concerned about this concern and wish to see your boxwoods lush green at the earliest, then this is the right article for you.

We help you identify the most common causes that are causing the condition and also provide the most effective solutions to fix this issue, read on to know it all.

Why Are Boxwoods Turning Yellow?

The boxwood turning yellow due to salt damage, under watering, lafminer, volutella stems canker, macrophoma leaf spot. In addition, it’s due to boxwood root rot, nematodes, blight, pest infestation, winter burns, aging, having poor maintenance, and lastly, change in color would also occur after pruning.

– Salt Damage

This a concern that most of the time it gets far away from being noticed, however, if you have been using salt to remove the ice from your sidewalk or pathway, then this could be causing potential damage to your boxwood shrubs.

The salt that you apply can accidentally spray and leech into the soil and leaves. This can damage the gentle plant tissues and also hamper the water balance at the roots, preventing it from functioning in the right manner.

The damage caused may not be noticeable immediately, however post winter in the spring months you will notice yellow leaves when they are supposed to be in their blooming season instead. If you look at the shrubs properly, the boxwood dying on one side, especially closer to the walking path.

– Underwatering

Underwatering this green shrubs can turn them yellow, and make them look weaker. The shrubs are indeed hardy, however they require regular watering otherwise they will suffer from dehydration and drought stress.

This sort of discoloration will occur generally in hot sultry weather when the soil tends to get dry, turning chlorotic, thereby leading to inadequate absorption of nutrients.

– Boxwood Leafminer

Boxwood leafminer is a common insect that lays its eggs in the layers of leaves of boxwood shrubs. The eggs of these insects develop into larvae, which in turn feed on the tender tissues of the foliage. 

On the other hand, it would get even more damaging as the adult leafminers to tend to eat into the leaves leaving behind noticeable holes all over the shrub. The infestation turns the leaves yellow along with brown patches and early dropping when it gets severe. 

– Volutella Stem Canker

Volutella stem canker condition is a fungal disease caused by the fungus called pseudonectria buxi. The infection results in boxwoods turning yellow orange with spots found on the underside of the leaves.

In case of severe infections, the branches can become loose and die back, ultimately leading to the death of the shrubs. You will notice the occurrence of this fungus generally in wet and rainy climates.

– Macrophoma Leaf Spot

This is another fungal disease that is caused by macrophoma candollei The fungus causes lesions in yellow or reddish brown color, all over the surface of the leaves. It sporulates on the underside of the leaves, as they would be leaving behind black fruiting spots.

– Root Rot

Root rot is one of the issues that is caused by the fungus phytophthora sp. The fungus will appear if the plant has been exposed to excess humidity or overwatering. Additionally, if you have let the roots sit in water for a long time it becomes moisture, making them susceptible to root and crown rot.

You will notice yellowing, wilting and occasional brown spots on the foliage. Root rot also makes the boxwood grow slow and stunted, along with upturned curled leaves. Since the roots are damage, and the foliage would start turning yellow as water would not nourish the leaves like the healthy leaves would.

Causes of Yellow Boxwoods

– Nematodes

Nematodes are pests that are microscopic and are seldom visible to the naked eye. However, these thrive on the roots of the shrubs, making them go weak and limp. It prevents the roots from absorbing adequate oxygen and nutrients from the soil, thereby turning the plant foliage yellow.

It will turn the foliage yellow, making it go weak and limp. However, when they are left unattended, the issue can cause dieback and further extensive damage to the plant foliage.

– Boxwood Blight 

This is yet another fungal disease, and the first early symptoms you will notice are yellowing leaves and occasional cases of boxwood turning brown. Additionally, the leaves will fall well before time.

Boxwood blight is generally caused if you’re using contaminated soil which could have been carried from the initial stages of the plant’s life, which is the nursery. 

It can also spread from plant to plant quickly or if you have used unsanitized tools to prune. If the condition is not tackled, it can damage your entire boxwood shrub. In addition, you would even be wondering why the boxwood is turning light green? And basically they become light green before they turn yellow because of blight.

– Pest Infestations

Pests such as spider mites, leaf miners and boxwood psyllids are common pests that attack boxwoods. The infestation can get worse if the shrubs have been exposed to some sort of stress thereby making them more susceptible to any form of damage by the pests.

Pests feed on the foliage and leave behind the larvae on the underside of leaves which can result in discoloration such as yellowed leaves. 

Leaf miners are tiny flies and the larval stage is the most dangerous as they dig into the plant’s foliage and result in blisters all over the surface apart from the yellowing. Psyllids are about 1/8th of an inch feeding on the foliage and turning them yellow in a short period. 

– Winter Burn 

Winter burn is when the shrubs lose water through their leaves in excess cold and frost conditions. During winters the roots and the soil tend to freeze and are unable to absorb much water to transport them across the shrub.

Coupled with chilly winds they struggle to cope and under the stress situation at freezing temperatures, the winter damage results in the boxwood turning yellow in summer.  

– Aging of the Leaves

Boxwood Bush leaves also go through a normal aging process. This is not a matter of concern as the changes occur over time and the leaves turn yellow and fall to accommodate new ones. You don’t have to be worried as much, as long as they are not falling well before time.

– Poor Maintenance

Much as the boxwood problems are minimal as the shrubs are sturdy and robust, regular maintenance is needed to keep them healthy and thriving. An irregular watering schedule, over-fertilizing and an imbalance in the soil pH were all common maintenance issues that make the boxwood prone to developing yellowed leaves.

Additionally, boxwood is a shrub with naturally rounded form thus over-pruning can damage its tissues, putting it under stress, thereby turning the leaves yellow.

– Change in Color Post Trimming

If you are concerned not only about the yellowing but also about why are my boxwoods turning brown post trimming, then do not this is normal, and the plant should recover in a couple of days. You may notice your boxwoods turning brown and yellow after a prune and the key way to tackle it is by pruning in early spring.


How To Fix Boxwoods Turning Yellow

To fix the boxwood turning issue you have to provide pest control, and control the diseases and the fungus that have been resulted. In addition, you could also maintain proper watering schedule, and resolve the root rot. You could tackle the winter burn and even tackle stem canker voluntella.

– Control Pests

The best way to control pests on boxwood shrubs is to regularly inspect for infestations or colonies and as soon as you see such signs, snipe the section away. This will prevent their spread to other sections, and you could reduce the yellowing to a great extent. 

Fix Yellow Boxwoods

Additionally, spray a diluted soapy solution so that the eggs fall off the plant. You can even apply organic neem solutions sprayed are also helpful, as the pests are repelled by their odor. Repeat the procedure once every two days along with a jet spray with which you can blast water on the affected area.

– Control Diseases and Fungus

Prune the affected sections before they spread to the other sections of the bushes. Treat the plant with an organic fungicide, which will reduce the impact of the disease and curb its spread.

In addition, prevent the occurrence of such diseases by always sterilizing all tools and equipment before use. Reduce moisture around the plant and soil so that the plant is not susceptible to fungal growth 

– Maintain a Proper Watering Schedule

Boxwoods do not like excessive amount of water but at the same time do not survive in drought conditions too. Thus, water the plant regularly depending on the climatic conditions, scaling back in winters and increasing the frequency in summers. 

Your soil should always be lightly moist and never let the roots sit in water for a long time, and when you do so, you will overcome this issue and solve the issue of how to revive a dying boxwood shrub

If you are living in an extremely dry zone, mulching will help to keep the soil slightly damp, and it also reduces the rate of evaporation of water, thereby keeping the boxwood well hydrated. These steps will prevent the shrubs from turning yellow. Also, if you are thinking about whether should you trim yellow leaves on boxwood, then the answer is yes. 

– Resolve Root Rot 

If you suspect root rot, the first thing to do is to stop watering the plants. Let the soil completely dry out. You could poke tiny holes in the soil so that air enters in and the water can evaporate faster.

It is recommended that one prevents the occurrence of this condition by ensuring there is never water logging at the base of the soil, along with proper drainage for excess water to leave. 

– Tackling Winterburn 

The best way to tackle the winterburn is to apply an anti-desiccant spray, which will act as a preventive layer and reduce the amount of water the plant will lose. After that, you must water the bushes normally, and they will recover in no time. 

Help Boxwoods Turning Yellow

– Tackle Stem Canker Volutella

To tackle volutella blight, reduce the humidity around the plant by trimming at 1/3 and removing all the infected branches. Spray a copper-based fungicide and repeat the action every few weeks, you will notice new growth occurring soon.


Can yellowing Boxwoods be propagated?

Yes, yellowing Boxwoods can be propagated through various methods like stem cuttings or layering for propagation success.

Do Yellow Boxwood leaves signify a Nitrogen deficiency?

Yes, yellow Boxwood leaves can indicate a Nitrogen deficiency, but other factors like water stress or disease should also be considered.

Will overfertilization result in yellow Boxwoods?

Overfertilization can cause yellowing in Boxwoods, so it’s important to avoid excessive nutrient application for optimal growth.


You have now learned how boxwood can turn yellow if they are put under certain stress conditions.

Let us recap all that we have learned on what causes the yellowing as well as the quick solutions that we have read about.

  • Boxwood shrubs can turn yellow due to several reasons such as pest infestations, bacteria or fungal diseases, root rot, improper watering, winter burn or poor maintenance of the shrubs.
  • It can also turn yellow due to salt damage caused due to the salt used to melt ice in winter which when accidentally splashed can leach into the soil and roots.
  • The best way to tackle each of these problems is by maintaining a proper care schedule, tackling pests and diseases at the earliest and watering the plant right.

You have understood how easy it is to keep your boxwood as an evergreen shrub away from turning yellow and if it does occur you will be able to fix the problem on your own.

So do not worry anymore as you will be able to keep intact the lush green leaves on your boxwood shrubs.

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