Q. How do I plant and care for my boxwood hedge?
Planting your Box
Transplant your boxwood balled and burlapped or from a container into well-drained soil. Box responds well to mulching with peat or leaf mold, because roots require cool moist conditions. Plant in full sun or light to moderate shade, and protect from drying winds and severe low temperatures. It is often necessary to shade newly transplanted plants from summer sun. In the South, partial shade is best, although some plants, especially the japonica variety, prosper in full sun.
To avoid damaging boxwood's shallow roots, don't cultivate or plant near the roots. Box prefers a high pH soil, optimum 6.8-7.5. It will tolerate as high as 8.3-8.7--nutrients can come from the breaking down of leaf mold and compost-conditioned soil.
Box is excellent as hedge plant and for foundations, edging, parterres, and formal gardens. Prune to shape or allow to grow naturally. Boxwoods contain alkaloids distasteful to deer, so it is quite deer-resistant. Many cultivars are available.
Boxwood as well as most plants can be burned from salt build up and need leaching out with plain water by thoroughly drenching the soil.
Buxus microphylla (littleleaf box or boxwood) grows 3-4 feet high by 3-4 feet wide, although a 6-foot-high plant was reported in Minnesota--an amazing size for a northern latitude--and a specimen 15 feet high, and 12 feet wide grew by 12’ grew at Blandy Arboretum, VA. Box is hardy in Zones 6-9, although some cultivars of B. sinica variety insularis will grow in zone 4. Its habit is evergreen, much-branched, compact, dense, rounded or broad-round shrub. The rate of growth is slow. Leaf color is medium green in summer changing to yellow-green-brown in winter. Select cultivars maintain reasonable to good green winter color; more than just cold that uglifies the foliage; wind, desiccation, lack of soil moisture (ground frozen) are also contributors, along with the salt build up will burn the leaves.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service
- Pruning boxwood is best done in early spring before growth begins. Propagation is done in late summer or early fall.
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