How to grow boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) (2023)

box,boxwood, is a British native tree most commonly used for hedges and pruning due to its small, evergreen leaves and dense growth. It produces small yellow flowers in April and May, but the nectar is plentiful and popular with bees. Box plants can grow up to 5 meters tall without pruning, but most of them never reach that height because they are regularly pruned.

Box is synonymous with formal gardens, especially parterres and knot gardens, and can be cut into a variety of shapes. It is beautiful, versatile and functional, but in recent years it has suffered a double blowa boxiboxwood caterpillar, weaken and kill the plant. This means that boxwoods are no longer a favorite plant for hedges or edging in many parts of the UK and are best grownan alternative to the boxFor examplehoneysuckleto avoid these problems.

how to grow boxes

Plant the boxes in moist but well-drained soil in full sun or shade. Prune in mid to late summer to maintain shape and watch for boxwood and boxwood caterpillars, which can damage the appearance and health of boxwood plants.

More about planter boxes:

  • an alternative to the box
  • How to make box balls
  • How to shape a box

Breeding Box: Jump Links

  • planter box
  • box maintenance
  • trim box
  • grow box
  • Grow Box: Troubleshooting
  • the best grow box

where to grow boxes

How to grow boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) (1)

Plant the boxes in any moist but well-drained soil, in sun or shade. You can also grow boxes in containers - they look especially good as topiary.

the planter box method

How to grow boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) (2)

Box plants for hedges are often bought in containers, so they can be planted at any time of the year as long as the ground is not frozen. However, the best time for planting is spring or autumn. Dig a large hole and add plenty of well-rotted compost andMycorrhizal fungiGive plants priority. Alternatively, buy bare-root plants from autumn to spring. Soak them overnight and then plant them at the same level as they were planted in the field.

It is recommended to isolate the plants from all other plants in the boxes for a month before planting to check that they are free of blight. Fungicides used by commercial growers can control blight but cannot eliminate it.

Follow Monty Don's guide to planting boxes as a hedge in this clip from Gardener's World:

If you are growing the boxwood in pots, choose a pot as large as possible (at least 45 cm wide) and plant it in loamy compost, e.g.John Innes 3.

If you are growing a hedge, you can plant the plants 30-40 cm apart (less if you are impatient) and they should be established within three to five years.

take care ofboxwood

Box plants in the ground do not need watering once established, except during periods of drought.

In the spring, feed with a multipurpose fertilizer, then mulch the base of the plant with well-rotted manure or garden compost.

Give potted plants a liquid feed once a month in the summer and keep the compost moist.

Keep an eye on your plants and check for boxwood fireflies and boxwood caterpillars.

How to trim a box

How to grow boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) (3)

Trim the hedge from mid to late summer. However, if you do prune, prune your form first in the spring and then later in the summer. To avoid blight, prune only in dry conditions and remove prunings immediately. Disinfect the shears between each plant to reduce the accidental spread of disease. Pruning only once a year will loosen the plant a bit because it will have better air circulation, which will hopefully reduce the occurrence of fire blight.

If the box is overgrown, it can be cut in late spring.

Follow Monty's guide to trimming box hedges, including how to keep them tidy all winter:

Annually mulch the plants in the boxes with well-rotted manure or compost.

Grow Box: Troubleshooting

a box

How to grow boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) (4)

box blight(Echinacea)is a fungal disease that causes defoliation and eventually weakens box plants. It spreads rapidly in warm, moist or humid conditions. Signs include brown leaves falling off the plant leaving bare spots, black streaks and dieback on young stems, and white spots on the undersides of leaves.

If you notice blight, it pays to take quick action to save your plants, as it can be very difficult to treat once it occurs. Cut back any heavily affected areas on dry days, removing more than you think you need, as the disease may have spread further into the plant but is not yet visible. Remove all debris around the plant and clean tools between each plant. Remove severely affected plants immediately and do not replant the boxes in the same area.

more of this

In this video from the World of Gardeners, learn how to recognize blight and prevent its spread:

Here, Monty Don takes action to save the hedge of his sick box. Hedge shears in hand, he demonstrates how to prune blight-affected plants, explaining how and where to prune and why it helps save diseased plants. After that, he shows you how to clean the tools and what to do with the clippings to avoid spreading fire blight spores to other unaffected plants in containers:

boxwood caterpillar

How to grow boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) (5)

boxwood caterpillaris a serious problem now affecting boxes across much of the UK. It is a boxwood larva that feeds on boxwood leaves, quickly defoliating the plant and reducing it to a bare skeleton. It is native to East Asia and has no known natural enemies in the UK, so it can cause extensive damage to host plants. Signs to look out for include distinctive spider webs around the leaves and small eggs laid on the underside of the leaves. Boxwood caterpillars must be dealt with immediately. If you can spot the caterpillars, you can pick them off by hand and remove the girdle around the leaves. They can also be managed with careful and repeated use of pheromone traps, biological control agents and pesticides. Be sure to carefully examine the entire plant and treat it thoroughly.

Cabbage wilt
There is another type of blight that can affect boxes, but is less harmful to the plant. The symptoms are similar to fire blight, but instead of black stripes, you may notice pink spores on the underside of the leaves. Cut the affected area in dry weather, store the cuttings in a box and disinfect your tool.

yellow, orange or red leaves
This is a sign that the plant is under some kind of stress - usually lacking water in the summer or flooded in the winter. If the plant is growing in a container, it may have tangled roots or it may not be getting enough nutrients from the compost in the container.

yellow tip of the leaf
Yellow leaf tips and edges are usually the result of cold winter weather.

Developmental delay, cup growth
Boxworms can cause leaf tips to appear stunted or twisted in the spring. This is not a serious problem - cut off any affected areas.

how to expand the box

How to grow boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) (6)

Boxwood is easily propagated by cuttings. You can also grow boxes from seed, but they will take several years to produce plants suitable for cultivation.

Follow Monty's tailoring guidelines as follows:

boxwoodvarieties to try

How to grow boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) (7)

  • boxwood– The common pomegranate is native to the British Isles and has small evergreen leaves and a dense habit. It is a popular choice for hedges and can be cut into a variety of shapes for trimming.
  • Buxus microphylla 'Golden Triumph'– One of the more resistant Asian varieties, it grows slowly and has smaller leaves. Young leaves begin to turn yellow, becoming a yellow-green two-tone. It can be grown in full or partial sun and thrives in moist but well-drained soil.
  • boxwood'Suffruticosa' - This dwarf form is a slow-growing, denser than average shrub. This is a good choice for low hedges and is often used in flower beds and knot gardens.
  • boxwood'Blauer Heinz' – A slow growing box variety with blue-green leaves. The plant is used for hedges and pruning, especially the ball.
  • boxwood'Rocket' – a fast-growing variety with a narrow, upright habit, making it a good choice for tall hedges.
  • boxwood'Elegance' - Multicolored box of medium growth. The leaves have a creamy silver edge.
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