The Boxwood plant is native to Europe and Asia. Boxwood is a thick shrub and a member of the evergreen family. Boxwood was first used in Egypt in 4000 BC. The Egyptians planted boxwoods in their gardens and mowed them into standard enclosures. Other cultures have used it to make woodcuts and precision tools.

Boxwood shrubs

Boxwoods are one of the most versatile shrubs that bring year-round color to the garden. Its evergreen foliage brightens dreary winter landscapes, provides a structure for formal and informal gardens and can be shaped into geometric or whimsical shapes.

Standard size, shape, growth rate, and hardiness vary among the many types of boxwood shrubs – some round, some low-growing and spreading, some upright, and some cone-shaped. However, its ability to rebound and withstand regular mowing and shearing makes it ideal for hedge and topiaries plants.

How to care for boxwoods shrubs

1.      When to prune Boxwood:

Trimming or mowing encourages new growth and is best done in late spring or summer. Avoid pruning or pruning in the fall or winter, as new development can be damaged by frost.

2.      How to prune Boxwood:

When pruning boxwoods, please don’t overdo it. While a lovely, compact shrub may look healthy outside, dense outer foliage (caused by over-pruning) can prevent air and light from reaching the plant’s interior. Instead, thin outdoor growth annually so air and sunshine can get in, trim any dead or a diseased branch from the center of the plant. Cutting can be done with hand shears, hedge shears, or electric trimmers.

3.      Winter Care:

Provide the additional protection from cold temperatures and winds with burlap wraps, decorative protection, or windbreaks. Apply a good layer of the mulch to keep the roots isolated; This will also retain moisture to prevent the dehydration damage from cold winter winds.

If bronze occurs on the foliage, resist the temptation to clip it off immediately. The new growth needed from the cutting will not be as hard as it has been damaged, so stop until spring when the recent change can come back.

4.      Soil:

Boxwood shrubs are resilient and can adapt to different well-drained soil types. The ideal soil pH is 6.5 to 7. For more information on proper soil preparation and how to adjust the pH if necessary, read Garden Soil 101.

5.      Amendments & Fertilizer:

Use a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer in the spring to promote leaf growth and again in the fall to encourage root growth. Apply the compost all over the root zone, extending beyond the plant’s crown. Be careful; The shallow root systems can be  damaged by excessive fertilizing.

6.      Watering:

Water the newly planted shrubs regularly for the first year, especially during hot, dry weather. In their second year, the root systems are still developing, so they continue watering regularly if the rainfall isn’t enough. Once established, they are pretty drought-tolerant and only need additional watering during dry spells. Water at base of the plant to keep the foliage dry and the conserve moisture with a layer of mulch that extends 12-15 inches past the foliage line.

7.      Diseases and Pests:

The Boxwood leaf miners, scale insects, blight nematodes, caterpillars, and mites can be a problem; Treat with organic neem oil or insecticide spray. They can also be susceptible to a powdery mildew, pythium root rot, cankers, and leaf spots. Boxwood blight is a severe problem in many states.

Deer Resistance:

A good part of the deer-resistant garden is the same alkaloid that makes it poisonous and unpleasant and can emit a pungent odor, which deters deer.

How to choose the suitable Boxwood Shrub?

With so many sizes, growth rates, and habits, it can be challenging to decide which is best. Here are some recommendations:

For topiaries and globes, groundcover, or rock gardens: Dwarf English boxwoods do well because their bushy shape and slow growth rate mean less pruning and maintenance. Fast growers may outgrow their shape quickly and need constant care. (Staff Picks: Buxus sempervirens North Star®, B. sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’, and B. ‘Green Velvet’)

For hedges and edging: Use moderate to fast-growing varieties and plant half the recommended spacing. (Staff Choices: Buxus microphylla Sprinter®, B. microphylla var. japonica ‘Green Beauty, and B. Sinica var. insularis ‘Winter Gem’)

For spirals and cones: Use taller, more vigorous plants with a natural or vertical conical shape. (Staff Picks: Buxus “Green Mountain” and B. Green Tower)

For colder zones: Korean boxwoods (B. silicas var. insularis) survive well in cooler temperatures, making them the best choice for cool-climate gardens.