Home Gardening Techniques Growing Boxwood: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners and Experts Alike

Growing Boxwood: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginners and Experts Alike

by Donna
4 minutes read

Growing Boxwood: A Comprehensive Guide


Boxwood, also known as Buxus sempervirens, is a versatile evergreen shrub that has been prized for centuries for its use in hedging, topiary, and formal gardens. Despite recent challenges from pests and diseases, boxwood remains a popular choice for gardeners due to its adaptability and ease of care. This comprehensive guide will provide you with all the information you need to successfully grow and maintain healthy boxwood plants.

Varieties of Boxwood

There are several varieties of boxwood available, each with its own unique characteristics:

  • Common Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens): The most common type of boxwood, known for its small, dense leaves and compact growth habit.
  • Golden Triumph (Buxus microphylla ‘Golden Triumph’): A hardy cultivar with smaller, yellow-green leaves that add a touch of color to the landscape.
  • Suffruticosa (Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’): A dwarf variety with a slow growth rate, making it ideal for low hedging and topiary.
  • Blauer Heinz (Buxus sempervirens ‘Blauer Heinz’): A slow-growing variety with bluish-green foliage, perfect for hedging and topiary balls.
  • Rocket (Buxus sempervirens ‘Rocket’): A fast-growing variety with a narrow, upright habit, suitable for taller hedging.
  • Elegans (Buxus sempervirens ‘Elegans’): A variegated variety with creamy-silvery bordered leaves, adding a touch of elegance to your garden.

How to Plant Boxwood

  • When to Plant: Boxwood can be planted anytime of the year except when the ground is frozen. Spring and fall are the ideal seasons for planting.
  • Where to Plant: Boxwood prefers moist but well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade.
  • How to Plant: Dig a hole twice the width of the root ball and just as deep. Amend the soil with compost or manure to improve drainage and fertility. Place the boxwood in the hole and backfill with the amended soil, tamping down gently to remove any air pockets. Water thoroughly after planting.

Caring for Boxwood

  • Watering: Water boxwood regularly, especially during hot, dry weather. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot.
  • Fertilizing: Fertilize boxwood once a year in spring with a balanced fertilizer.
  • Pruning: Prune boxwood in mid to late summer to maintain its shape and size. Prune lightly to avoid stimulating new growth that may be susceptible to frost damage.
  • Mulching: Spread a layer of mulch around boxwood plants to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.

Pests and Diseases

  • Box Blight: A fungal disease that causes leaf loss and weakens boxwood plants. Cut out infected areas and destroy them. Avoid pruning in wet conditions and disinfect tools between cuts to prevent the spread of the disease.
  • Box Tree Caterpillar: A pest that feeds on boxwood leaves, defoliating the plant. Handpick caterpillars or use pheromone traps, biological controls, or insecticides to manage the infestation.
  • Volutella Blight: A less damaging type of blight that causes similar symptoms to box blight. Cut out affected areas and disinfect tools.


  • Yellowing Leaves: Yellowing leaves can be caused by frost damage, lack of water, or waterlogged soil. Wait until after the last frost to trim away yellow leaves and allow new growth to emerge.
  • Orange Leaves: Orange leaves can indicate sunburn, lack of nutrients, or waterlogged soil. Water and fertilize the plant, and if growing in a pot, check for rootbound conditions.
  • Hard Pruning: Boxwood generally responds well to hard pruning. Cut back neglected trees to within 15-30cm of the ground in May, or prune in stages over several years.


Growing boxwood is a rewarding experience that can add beauty and structure to your garden. By following the tips outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your boxwood plants thrive for years to come. Remember to choose the right variety for your needs, plant and care for them properly, and be vigilant for pests and diseases. With a little effort, you can enjoy the timeless elegance of boxwood in your own outdoor space.

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