Boxwoods are a classic american plant although they are not native. While they are native to many parts of the world, they were introduced to us by our European friends in the 1600’s. No matter the style of your landscape, a boxwood has it’s place; they can be simple or formal depending on their placement in the garden. Although there are many species and cultivars the most familiar are the buxus sempervirens (American Boxwood) and buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’ (English Boxwood). Other cold hardy varieties are being sold on the commercial market now as well.
Boxwoods are generally low maintenance and deer resistant making them a good landscape choice. Their use in the garden varies. They can serve as a nice evergreen backdrop for a perennial garden or they can take center stage as a spiral topiary in the center of the landscape. Typically they are used in elegant landscapes as a focal point, for formal hedging, as a border, or on each side of an entryway.
Boxwoods prefer plantings in well-draining soil in part sun, but they will grow in full sun. Twice weekly watering during dry, summer weather will be required until shrubs are well established (likely 2 years). Add a 2-3” layer of mulch or pine straw to help keep roots cool and replenish the layer each year as necessary. Boxwoods have shallow roots and even established specimens will need watering during periods of drought.
Boxwoods typically do not need fertilization but a simple soil test can determine if any fertilizer is needed. These are free either by our staff or the cooperative extension service – just stop in to the garden center with your soil sample and we’ll get you started. (Instructions on taking a soil sample can be found here) If fertilizer is needed the best time for application is late winter. If you prefer to trim your boxwood to take on a particular shape, pruning is best in winter as well. If necessary, pruning can be done almost any time of the year except within the 6 weeks prior to the first fall frost. (This would typically be late August through October).
Boxwoods are slow growers. If you select smaller ones at the garden center you may need to be patient for them to reach full size. Luckily we normally carry large, mature specimens ready to provide instant gratification in the landscape.
New and Exciting Cultivars
Buxus sempervirens ‘Graham Blandy’ is an unusual selection suitable for small spaces. These grow upright and narrow. A perfect columnar evergreen! 9 feet tall by just 2 feet wide.
Buxus sempervirens ‘Newport Blue’ is loved for their bluish-green foliage. Grows to 5 feet tall and wide.