Formal Boxwood garden

For the Love of Boxwood, a healthy, green boxwood looks about as dignified as a plant can be. It adds an air of formality and permanence to the landscape, taking center stage in winter when trees are leafless and then receding gracefully into the background in summer when flowers dominate. Its tidiness and ease of maintenance make it a favorite just about everywhere it grows.

“Man’s Oldest Garden Ornamental,” was introduced to North America from Europe in the mid-1600s and reached its peak popularity in the United States during the early 19th century and again during the Colonial Revival era. Horticultural interest in the genus Buxus is maintained today by many nurserymen, landscapers and homeowners.

While the most familiar forms are what are commonly referred to as “American” (Buxus sempervirens) and “English” (Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’) boxwood, there are about 90 species and over 365 different cultivars known exhibiting a wide variety of forms and foliage. Several of the more unusual cultivars are now in commercial production.

Boxwood is considered to be a low-maintenance shrub, but certain practices are recommended to keep the plants healthy. The fall is the best time for boxwood planting and mulching, while the winter is the ideal time for pruning, thinning, and protection. Boxwood can be planted in the spring, which is also the time for monitoring insects. Inspection of plants for insects should continue in the summer, during which time there should be attention to weed control and the watering needs of the plants.

Boxwood plants may be used as individual specimens, hedges, parterres and groups. Special uses include growth in containers, topiary, and bonsai. Boxwood can be seen growing in many public and private gardens in the United States, but most especially in the Mid-Atlantic area. The largest collections of species and cultivars can be seen at the Virginia State Arboretum in Boyce, Virginia, where The American Boxwood Society maintains the Boxwood Memorial Garden and at the U. S. National Arboretum in Washington, D. C.

Boxwood also makes for great container plants.

Boxwood also make for great container plants.



When choosing where to plant boxwoods, make sure to plant them in the spot most appropriate for their needs. A full or part sun location is needed for optimum growth of this specimen. Successfully growing boxwood requires well-drained soil and while the plants prefer soil to be organic, the boxwood’s soil needs are adaptable.

When planting, consider your year round climate. If temperatures become extremely hot in summer, boxwood plants will appreciate afternoon shade and regular watering. Water deeply, as frequent, shallow irrigation will not reach the root zone of the growing boxwood. Until established, after about two years, boxwoods will need at least weekly watering.

When planting boxwood, locate them in an area that is protected from winter wind to avoid a condition called winter bronzing. Plant at the same level they were planted at the nursery or in the container. Planting  too deeply can lead to stress and possibly death.

Formal Boxwood Garden

Formal Boxwood Garden in France

Boxwood can go in any garden

Boxwood can go in any garden













Boxwoods can’t take standing water and heavy, wet soil. Poor drainage leads to root rot, which in turn causes parts of the shrub to become light brown and die. You can prune out the dead stuff, but unless you improve the drainage by redirecting excess water or amending the soil with lots of organic matter, the whole plant will eventually die.
Properly mulching the shallow-rooted boxwood helps retain moisture and keep roots cool. Growing boxwoods should have a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch extending 12 inches past the foliage. As with all shrub mulching, trunks should not be covered.
Aside from watering and mulching, growing boxwood is a low maintenance task, unless you wish to keep them as a sheared hedge. Shearing, or pruning of boxwood, is the most time-consuming part of care when they are grown as a hedge, but you will be rewarded with a healthy, long-lasting hedge. Older plant care will include thinning limbs to allow sunshine to reach the inner foliage.
The boxwood leaf miner is the most common pest one must deal with when caring for boxwoods. If foliage begins to yellow, treat with organic oil or insecticidal sprays. Phytophthora root rot may result from soggy soils.
Yearly soil tests can determine if the soil pH for the boxwood is correct. Soil pH should be between 6.5 and 7. It is best to test the soil before planting boxwood. pH can be raised with the addition of lime and lowered by sulfur.
As slow-growing landscape, boxwoods are valuable plants, and consequently they are expensive. Take time to choose where to plant boxwood carefully. Remember to water and mulch properly for a long-lived, vigorous specimen.

Boxwood infected with Leaf Miner.

Boxwood infected with Leaf Miner.

Boxwood winter damge

Boxwood winter damage









Do you LOVE your boxwoods? Do you want them to have the best care possible to keep them healthy and safe for years to come? Call T&T today and we will come out, examine your plants and discuss our 3 Step Boxwood Program and how it can help keep your plants looking great.

Those who want to learn more about boxwood — and see it growing in all its unsheared shapes and sizes — can visit the National Boxwood Collection at the United States National Arboretum, in Washington (202-245-2726 or
Blandy Experimental Farm, at the State Arboretum of Virginia, in Boyce, Va., also maintains 95 varieties of boxwood, with the help of the American Boxwood Society (540-837-1758 or
“The American Boxwood Society Boxwood Handbook: A Practical Guide to Knowing and Growing Boxwood” (Greater Valley Publications; $22), by Lynn R. Batdorf, the curator of the Boxwood Collection at the United States National Arboretum, lists many of the best cultivars for the Northeast.

Boxwood garden