There’s nothing more beautiful than having a thick and lush boxwood hedge around your property.
I eagerly bought my first few boxwood plants, but after nine months and a load of fertilizer, I could hardly see any growth or thickening of these pretty plants.
Was my hedge going to be a disaster? I decided to read up and speak to the gardening pros for some help.
The result was that my boxwoods began to really flourish, and I can see that in a few years, I will be able to trim them into breathtaking hedges. Here’s how.
How to Make Boxwoods Grow Faster
Boxwoods are slow-growing shrubs, so don’t expect more than 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) of growth per year. However, good fertilizer, regular and selective pruning, and adequate watering can influence growth health. By ensuring my boxwoods are healthy, I could prevent diseases that could slow down their growth, and have a much healthier and faster growth than before.
Tips for Faster Boxwood Growth
Tip One: Choose the Right Variety
There are several families of boxwood shrubs, and each has its own unique charm. However, the American family of boxwoods (Buxus sempervirens) is generally a faster-growing boxwood.
While the English boxwood is more popular, if you want speedy growth in your hedges, then the American boxwood is better. The English boxwood is better suited to garden sculpting and topiary forms.
You should also consider specific varieties that will grow faster in different conditions in the U.S.
If you are in a colder area, such as the northern States, then choosing a “green mountain” variety is better suited as it will tolerate the cold better and grow consistently without going dormant.
I successfully planted these in my state, and I live in a United States Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone of 5. They do well in zones 4-9.
Tip Two: Plant Appropriately
I know that when I first planted my boxwoods, I planted them quite deeply, wanting to give the roots ample soil to root in. This proved a mistake.
Boxwoods don’t like being buried, so when you plant the root ball, you should ensure that at least an inch of the root crown, or the top of the roots where they attach to the stem, is visible above the ground level.
This ensures the roots can breathe better and stops root rot caused by overwatering.
Tip Three: Water Appropriately
Boxwoods prefer drier soil, so don’t overwater. Spraying daily or hosing like a maniac will not make your boxwoods grow faster. If anything, it will cause the leaves to brown and fall off.
Water the boxwoods once a week, or better yet, check the soil dampness by sticking your finger in next to the stem.
If the soil feels moist when your finger reaches the depth of the second knuckle, then your soil is still okay. Should you only feel dry sand, then it’s time to water.
Tip Four: Space the Plants Correctly
Boxwoods are very space conscious. If you plant them too close to your home or to each other, it will influence how fast they grow.
For the smaller varieties, plant them 2-3 feet from each other, and the larger ones require 5-6 feet distance apart for full growth.
Tip Five: Cover With Mulching
Your boxwoods can dry out since you don’t want to plant them too deeply. I like to cover mine with mulching or bark chips to help lock in moisture and prevent atmospheric drying out.
Tip Six: Prune for Growth
While you may be planning on how you will shape your hedges or topiary forms, your first pruning sessions should be to prune your boxwoods into pyramid shapes.
This is because a pyramid shape allows the most light to penetrate the shrubbery, which helps the plant to produce food through photosynthesis.
When you are trimming your boxwood, be sure to never prune away any new leaves. Wait till leaves have matured and hardened, unless the leaves are sickly or diseased, in which case, you should cut these away immediately.
Keep pruning sessions to only 2-3 times per year as more trimming will negate any growth. People mistakenly believe that regularly pruning your boxwood will stimulate growth. It won’t.
The prune-for-growth rule only works with grass species of plants. Instead, make sure you prune your boxwood in the pyramid shape and keep the leaves healthy, trimming any sickly leaves away.
Only prune in late winter, as this is when the leaves will be most mature and ready to be trimmed. Never prune more than a third of the plant as this could prevent growth and slow the growth rate overall.
Tip Seven: Check Your Soil pH and Fertilize Accordingly
Boxwoods prefer slightly acidic soil, so be sure to check the pH with a regular pool pH checker. Simply dissolve some of the soil in pH-neutral water, then add a testing strip and voilà!
If your soil pH is a bit alkaline, then you can add in some acidic fertilizer such as composting that contains ammonia and urea.
I source some chicken manure from my neighbor, who keeps chickens, but you can buy organic manure from a local farmer’s co-op.
Frequently Asked Questions about How to Make Boxwoods Grow Faster
How can I encourage my boxwood to grow?
Wait until six weeks after your last frost, then prune your boxwood. This will encourage lateral growth. Remember to follow the tapered top to bottom pruning approach as you don’t want the lower branches to die.
What is the best fertilizer for boxwoods?
Urea-based granules are ideal for boxwoods. Getting the 10-6-4 ratio is the best kind of fertilizer. However, boxwoods love manure and compost, so you can happily combine manure and mulching to make a nutrient-rich bed to add at the base of your boxwoods.
Why is my boxwood not growing?
The main reason boxwoods don’t grow is usually root rot. In my case, it was from planting my boxwoods too deeply. Also avoid pushing the mulching around the stem as this can cause rot as well. With healthy roots, your boxwood will grow optimally.
Over the Final Hedge
Boxwoods are darling plants, and once I figured out what mine needed, they were so little work it was amazing.
I had to take care to plant them at the right depth, leave the roots uncovered for at least an inch, water sparingly, and use mulching to help keep my plant moist.
I gave my pruning shears a rest for a few months, then I nipped off some old growth at the end of winter, and the next season, my boxwoods were thriving.
With these steps, you will grow stunning boxwoods faster than ever before.
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Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.