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How To Grow and Care for Boxwood?

Boxwood bushes

Boxwood is a classic evergreen shrub that brings ageless grace to any garden or landscape.

But one must have a certain savvy to grow and tend to this beauty.

This article will offer a complete guide on boxwood cultivation and maintenance, including advice on planting, watering, pruning, shaping, and solving common issues.

What Is Boxwood?

Boxwood is an evergreen shrub native to Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America.

It is known for its compact, dense foliage and slow growth rate, which make it a popular choice for hedges, topiaries, and container plants.

There are more than 70 species of Boxwood, but the most common types include the following:

  • Buxus Semperviva rens (common boxwood)
  • Buxus microphylla (Japanese Boxwood)
  • Buxus harlandii (Harland boxwood).

These species vary in leaf shape, growth habit, and hardiness, but all are prized for their ornamental value and versatility in garden design.

Boxwood: Shape It Like a Pro

Boxwood is a popular plant for formal gardens, as it can be easily shaped into various geometric shapes and patterns.

Boxwood Growth Rate and Lifespan

Boxwood’s growth rate and lifespan depend on several factors, including the species, growing conditions, and care practices.

Most boxwood plants have a slow to moderate growth rate and can live for several decades with proper care.

However, some species may have a shorter lifespan and be more susceptible to diseases or environmental stressors.

How To Grow Boxwood?

Boxwood ball

Growing Boxwood requires attention to detail but can be achieved with suitable soil, site, and care practices.

Here are some tips for successfully growing Boxwood.

Choosing the Right Soil

Boxwood grows best in well-draining soil rich in organic matter. The soil should be slightly acidic to neutral, with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5.

Heavy or clay-like soil can be amended with compost or other organic matter to improve drainage and fertility.

Choosing the Right Site

Boxwood prefers partial shade to full sun and a location protected from harsh winds and temperatures.

Choose a cool and moist spot that receives good air circulation, and avoid planting Boxwood in areas prone to waterlogging.

Planting Boxwood

Boxwood can be planted in spring or fall when temperatures are mild and the soil is moist.

Avoid planting during extreme heat or cold periods, which can stress the plant and affect its growth.

How To Plant?

Dig a hole that is slightly larger than the root ball of the Boxwood and loosen the soil around the hole’s edges.

Place the plant in the hole and backfill it with soil, ensuring the top of the root ball is level with the ground. Water the plant thoroughly to settle the soil.

Watering Boxwood

Boxwood should be watered deeply and regularly during the first year after planting to help establish a healthy root system.

After that, water the plant only when the soil is dry to the touch, usually every 7 to 10 days.

Amount of Water

Water boxwood deeply, allowing the water to penetrate the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches 15-20 cm).

Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and other diseases.

Fertilizing Boxwood

Boxwood can be fertilized with a slow-release fertilizer.õ

Choose a fertilizer high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, such as a 10-6-4 or 12-6-6 fertilizer.

When To Fertilize?

Fertilize Boxwood in early spring or fall when the plant is actively growing.

Avoid fertilizing during drought or extreme temperatures, which can stress the plant and affect its growth.

How To Care for Boxwood?

Boxwood is a versatile and hardy plant that can thrive for decades with proper care.

This section will discuss the best practices for pruning, shaping, and mulching boxwood.

Pruning Boxwood

Boxwood should be pruned annually to maintain its shape and density.

The best time to prune Boxwood is in the late winter or early spring before new growth begins.

How To Prune?

Use sharp, clean shears to prune Boxwood and reduce new growth to just above a leaf node.

Avoid cutting into old wood, damaging the plant, and inhibiting new growth.

Shaping Boxwood

Boxwood can be shaped into various forms, including hedges, spheres, and topiaries.

To shape Boxwood, use shears or clippers to trim the plant gradually over time, not removing too much growth at once.

Tools for Shaping

The tools needed to shape Boxwood include sharp, clean shears or clippers and a steady hand.

Using stakes or a frame to guide the shaping process is also helpful.

Mulching Boxwood

Mulching around Boxwood can help to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

It can also provide nutrients as the mulch breaks down over time.

How To Mulch?

To mulch around Boxwood, spread a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or shredded leaves, around the base of the plant, taking care not to cover the trunk.

Mulch should be replenished annually to maintain its effectiveness.

Possible Problems With Boxwood

Boxwood is generally a low-maintenance plant but can be vulnerable to certain pests and diseases.õ

Here are some common issues that can affect Boxwood and how to address them.

Boxwood LeafMiner

Boxwood leafminer is a moth whose larvae tunnel into the plant leaves, causing brown discoloration and dieback.

Use a systemic insecticide in early spring or late fall when the larvae are hatching to prevent leafminers.

Boxwood Blight

Boxwood blight is a fungal disease that causes brown spots on the leaves, black streaks on the stems, and defoliation.

To prevent this, avoid planting Boxwood in areas with poor drainage, ensure adequate air circulation, and avoid overhead watering.

If Boxwood blight is present, remove and destroy infected plants and treat nearby plants with a fungicide.

Boxwood Psyllid

Psyllid damage on Boxwood
Phyllid damage on boxwood. Source: Wikimedia

Boxwood psyllid is an insect that feeds on the plant’s sap, causing yellowing and stunted growth.

Prune any infested branches and spray the plant with insecticidal soap.

Boxwood Mite

Boxwood mite is a tiny spider-like pest that feeds on the plant’s leaves, causing a bronzing effect.

Apply a dormant oil spray in late winter to suffocate the mites.


Boxwood is a plant of timeless beauty, enhancing any garden or landscape with its elegance.

By adhering to basic practices for its growth and maintenance, such as soil preparation, careful site selection, and protection against pests and diseases, one can savor the splendor of this beloved plant for a lifetime.

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