“The taller a plant is and the farther from the ground, the more air it’s catching and the better it looks.”

Some tactics are simple (and reminiscent of tomato best practices): Don’t water overhead; don’t work among plants when the foliage is wet.

And don’t forget to mulch: Research by Chuanxue Hong, a professor of plant pathology at Virginia Tech, has shown that a mulch layer is up to 97 percent effective at blocking spores that would otherwise splash up onto plants.

“A leaf that might have fallen off an infected plant the year before can’t come back and haunt it again if it’s buried,” said Ms. Daughtrey, who is looking forward to a rapid test for blight that is in development — and to the fruit of collaborative efforts to build a better boxwood today.

Margaret Roach is the creator of the website and podcast A Way to Garden, and a book of the same name.

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