Skip to Content

How to Care For Boxwoods The Right Way!

How to Care For Boxwoods The Right Way!

If you wish to cultivate a plant that will look spectacular on your pavement or fence, Boxwood shrub has to be a perfect choice. 

The shrub will look absolutely stunning even when it is not trimmed or cut to a certain shape. 

Boxwood shrub is indigenous to Southern and Western Europe and also to some parts of America, Asia, and Africa. 

These shrubs have a long history dating back to 4,000 BC when Ancient Egyptians used them in their hedges and gardens.

The wood of Boxwood shrub is often used to make different objects. Several musical instruments and rulers are made from the wood of this shrub.

 

How to Care for Boxwoods

Boxwood prefers well-draining soil with pH maintained between 6.5-7.2 and water the plant 12 to 18 inches deep. Apply a liquid fertilizer with a 12:5:9 NPK ratio and place it in a location that receives filtered sunlight. It prefers a temperature range from 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit (18-29 degrees Celsius).

 

Soil

Adequate soil preparation will help Boxwood stay safe from many problems. To help it drain well, you can add organic matter to the regular soil mix; this also helps loosen compact soil.

When there is no proper drainage, the roots remain flooded with water which can be fatal for your Boxwood. 

Avoid planting azalea and other acid-loving shrubs near Boxwood, as soil pH varies greatly for these plants.

Since Boxwood has shallow roots, constant change in the moisture content will damage these roots. Mulching the soil frequently with organic matter is very helpful. 

It will help in keeping the moisture consistent and increases the organic content in your soil. Don’t apply new mulch to the stems.

The pH of the soil should be maintained between 6.5 to 7.2, do a soil test and apply calcium to get this pH.  It is suggested to test your soil every year to know the pH and then add calcium to it as required.

 

Water

For ideal growth, it is recommended to water the newly installed Boxwood thoroughly. 

Make sure the shrub receives an inch of irrigation every week while paying close attention during drought and hot season.

It is often said that the first year after planting is very vital in regard to proper watering. Usually, the shrub will need extra water starting from October till April.

Test the soil moisture before you apply water to Boxwood. It will prosper if the water is applied thoroughly to a depth of around 12 to 18 inches.

Before you reapply water, allow the roots to dry up a little bit, this is a great way to have a strong root system. The amount and time of water are decided by looking at the soil condition, weather, and precipitation.

Do not let the shrub dry out to a point where it is facing a decline in health and is at the edge of dying. 

A basic drip irrigation technique will be a perfect way of watering your Boxwood. 

It will apply water slowly to the roots and go deeply into the ground. When used during dry times, it won’t overwater the shrub, unlike a sprinkler system.

A constantly wet environment is considered ideal for diseases and pests to thrive. The most common problems faced due to wet foliage are Boxwood Blight, Root rot, and Phytophthora.

Keep in mind that the roots need proper air circulation along with water. A constantly flooded root system will only suffocate the shrub resulting in its death. 

 

Light

Boxwoods are shrubs that prefer full sun to partial shade. However, it is always safe to grow them in a place with filtered light.

The best location will be to plant it in a lightly shaded place, receiving few hours or early afternoon or morning sun. 

Boxwood grown in full sun is prone to leaf burn, while that grown in full shade is not very strong.

 

Temperature

Boxwood is not very temperature tolerant. You will often find the shrub dying in the cold season as it does not survive in temperatures below the 50-degree Fahrenheit mark (10 degrees Celsius).

The ideal temperature range for healthy growth of Boxwood is between 65-85 degrees Fahrenheit (18-29 degrees Celsius).

 

Humidity

The shrub will prefer to grow in high humidity.

You can raise the humidity around Boxwood by placing a humidifier and avoid putting it near vents and air conditioners.

 

Fertilizer

Boxwood is not a heavy feeder and does not require a lot of fertilizer, but a soil test should be done to know the nutritional needs. 

The best time to fertilize Boxwood is in the early spring or the late fall season.

The roots of Boxwood grow very fast in winter, early spring, and late fall because of balanced soil temperature. 

If fertilizer is applied in early fall or late summer, it will cause the shrub to produce new growth, which is of no use since the frost is approaching.

For optimal growth, apply fertilizer at the drip line of Boxwood and not under the mulch. 

This is because the shrub has feeding roots just below the soil, so applying fertilizer to them will be damaging to the shrub.

Avoid using fertilizers designed for acid-loving plants as they will decrease the pH in the soil, which is something we don’t want. You can incorporate a liquid fertilizer having an NPK ratio of 12:5:9.

 

Repotting

It is very easy to transplant Boxwood. However, proper care should be taken when transplanting, considering the procedure and time.

The recommended time for repotting Boxwood is in the fall. Choose a time when the summer heat has started to disappear, and cooler temperatures and rain are observed.

However, do not wait for the weather to get extremely cold. Repotting at an optimum time will help the plant overcome transplant shock and focus on strong root growth.

Plan on repotting when there is ample moisture as it will prepare the plant for the dry summer season coming up.

Start the process by digging the root ball using the shrub’s canopy as a reference. The root ball must be 2 to 3 feet deep and 1 to 1 ½ feet wide.

Now place this in a new potting mix and water it thoroughly. Place the repotted shrub in a place receiving filtered light.

 

Pruning

Using proper pruning procedures will benefit your Boxwood. Proper sanitation of the tools is also very important for the safety of the shrub. 

Use bleach, alcohol, or other disinfectants to clean the tools. Never use tools from other gardens or nurseries as they may serve as a base for the spread of various diseases in your Boxwood.

The ideal time for pruning the shrub is in early spring or late winter when the dormancy is about to end. Pruning during this time will help in the uniform and strong growth of Boxwood.

Several gardeners do the pruning in November and December so that they can use Boxwood for decorating their homes for the holiday season. This practice is quite common and helpful for the shrub.

Pruning that boosts air circulation in a Boxwood is generally considered beneficial. 

Annual pruning is used to boost ventilation and sunlight absorption into the inner part of the shrub in cultivars that are tight or dwarf.

 

Propagation

 

From Cuttings

The ideal time to propagate through cuttings is either in early fall or late summer. To propagate Boxwood through cuttings, the first thing you need is to find a cutting.

After the plant has been hardened, choose a branch that is strong and disease-free. Make sure the cuttings are around 4-6 inches in length. 

Then, after removing the bottom leaves of the cutting, dip ½ inch of the stem into a rooting hormone that’s powder in form. Then transfer it into a pot containing equal parts of sand and compost. 

Place your cuttings in a location that receives good sunlight and is warm. You must make sure that the soil is moist, and to do so, you can spray the leaves with water one to two times a day.

Come back and check your cuttings after four weeks to see if it has developed any roots. If the cutting did not die or wilt, then the chances are high that roots have developed. 

To know if the roots are strong, lightly pull the cuttings and if it is tightly stuck to the soil, the roots are strong. Two weeks after it has developed a root system, transfer it to a bigger pot.

 

From Seeds

Start the process by purchasing a soilless mix for germinating the seeds. 

Next, you need to make the seeds adaptable to the cold, and this can be done by exposing them to a cold environment for one to two months.

Take sandpaper and scratch the seeds coating and then place the seeds in warm water, allowing them to soak in it for a night. The next day, take the seeds and put them in a plastic bag containing peat moss.

Place them in a refrigerator at 33-41 degrees Fahrenheit for a month or two while ensuring they don’t get waterlogged or dry. 

When they have been adjusted to cold, you can transfer the seeds to a tray containing soil mix. 

With 3 inches of space from each other, bury the seeds with a depth of 1/16th inch. 

Cover up the tray with a plastic bag and frequently mix the soil to keep a moist environment for germination. The seeds will take about six months to germinate.

Once you start to observe seedlings, remove the plastic bag and place a grow light over the tray. 

Another option is to place it near a sunny window but grow lights provide consistent light and prevent the seedlings from becoming leggy.

Water the seedlings regularly to ensure the soil’s moistness, but not too much to make it soggy. Transfer the seedlings to individual planters once they grow to about 4 inches (10 cm).

Now being in individual pots, the seedlings will develop their own root system if provided good care.

 

Blooms

Boxwood shrub blooms from the month of April to May and has green to creamy, yellow-colored flowers. 

However, the flowers of this shrub are not very significant.

 

Growth

The Boxwood’s size varies greatly on the species you’re growing. The dwarf shrubs are usually 2-8 feet (0.6-2 meters) tall. 

It grows 12 inches (30 cm) every year. The branches on bigger cultivars can measure 6-10 inches (15-25 cm) or only a few inches on a dwarf.

The Boxwood shrub is grown in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 8.

 

Common Problems for Boxwood

 

Mites

Light-colored patches begin to appear on the underside when Boxwood is infested with Mites. 

The main cause of mite infestation is placing the shrub in too much sun. You can treat mites by spraying the shrub with horticultural oil.

 

Psyllids

The presence of psyllids can be noted when the leaves of Boxwood begin to cup. 

The solution is to prune the damaged leaves and spray the shrub with horticultural soap when psyllids appear.

 

Boxwood Blight

The presence of Boxwood blight can be detected when you observe brown-purple borders and round brown spots on leaves. The leaf spots might have yellow halos.

The affected foliage turns brown and begins to drop from the stems very rapidly. The rapid fall of foliage will only happen when the shrub is diseased with Boxwood Blight and not any other disease. 

The infected Boxwood cannot be cured; the only option left is to throw the affected plant away.

 

Nematodes

The shrub will start to turn bronze, with stunted growth and loss of strength. Nematodes are very widespread, and you can only control these by proper care of Boxwood. 

Managing a consistent pH will surely help avoid the spread of nematodes.

 

Tips for Growing Boxwoods

  • Spray Boxwood with horticultural oil during the winter season to treat any pest attack. This also helps in providing protection against frost.
  • Do not let the soil around the roots of Boxwood dry out when the weather is freezing or windy. Keep it moist to protect it against the winter burn.
  • Prune the Boxwood in early spring to allow light and air to reach the shrub’s center.

 

Frequently Asked Questions about How to Care for Boxwoods

 

How fast do Boxwood shrubs grow?

Boxwood is a very slow grower. The growth rate of the shrub can vary from 6 inches to 12 inches per year, depending on the species.

 

Is Boxwood evergreen?

Luckily Boxwood shrubs will stay green throughout the year if given proper care and maintenance. You may only face discoloration during the extremely cold season, but that will be revived once spring arrives. You can also provide it some protection by covering it with a plastic bag or sheets.

 

Conclusion

This easy to care shrub will surely beautify your living space. 

The best thing about the Boxwood shrub is that it can be pruned to any shape like cylindrical, circular, or even rectangular to fit your liking.

This shrub has been a favorite of many royals, and you will often find it planted at the pavements of palaces and ancient buildings. 

If you are looking for a decorative shrub that is easy to grow, then you must consider cultivating a Boxwood shrub in your garden, pavement, or along the driveway.