Buxus Growing Guide
Buxus sempervirens (Common boxwood, American boxwood), Buxus sempervirens suffruticosa (English boxwood), Buxus microphylla (littleleaf boxwood, small-leaf box), Buxus microphylla japonica (Japanese boxwood, littleleaf boxwood), Buxus sinica (Korean boxwood)
Crop Rotation Group
Moist, well-drained soil enriched with plenty of compost or other organic matter, with a neutral to slightly alkaline pH.
Full sun to part shade.
Cold tolerance varies with cultivar, with some hardy to -26°C (-15°F). Japanese Buxus is less cold hardy but better adapted to hot summer climates.
Topdress the root zone with a balanced organic fertiliser in spring, and keep plants mulched year round to protect the plants’ shallow roots.
Single Plants: 1.00m (3' 3") each way (minimum)
Rows: 1.00m (3' 3") with 1.00m (3' 3") row gap (minimum)
Sow and Plant
Set out purchased plants in spring through to autumn as long as your soil is not frozen or summers too hot. Water regularly, and cover the root zone with an organic mulch to keep the soil moist at all times. Spacing varies with the type grown, because Buxus vary in size from 30 cm (12 inches) to 5m (16 feet 4 inches) tall. Allow at least 1m (3 feet 3 inches) between plants of most Buxus species, unless grown as a hedge, when they can be planted as close as 30cm (12 inches) apart. Check plant tags for a plant’s mature width.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalised calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.
Visit local nurseries to learn about the best Buxus for your area. Well-grown plants are costly, but they will instantly add structure and winter interest to any landscape. Dwarf cultivars can be counted upon to stay at a certain size with minimal pruning, while larger selections are meant to be pruned. Take your time making choices, because Buxus are long-lived shrubs that will be with you for many years. Large Buxus give off an acrid scent that some people find disagreeable, but this is not an issue with small dwarf Buxus. Buxus produce tiny blossoms in late spring that are often visited by pollinators. Buxus can be left unpruned, but many gardeners enjoy trimming them into tight shapes. Prune any time from late spring until early autumn. Pruning late in the season can push out tender new growth that is easily injured by cold winter weather. In cold winter climates, plants are sometimes wrapped with burlap to prevent bronzing or loss of leaves due to low temperatures.
In New Zealand, the US and Europe, a fungal disease called boxwood blight has spread rapidly in the last 30 years. When bringing new plants into the landscape, inspect them closely for signs of disease, evidenced by dry or browning leaves with lighter undersides. Buxus can also suffer infestation by scale insects.
Planting and Harvesting Calendar
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