Boxwood hedges, with their dark, green leaves and sturdy limbs, make a pleasing backdrop for other plants such as annuals, perennials, herbs, small fruits, and even vegetables.
Whether your boxwoods are shaped into rectangles, spheres, cones, or more fanciful shapes, there is a huge choice for the landscaper and home gardener when it comes to companion plants for boxwoods.
What to Plant in Front of Boxwoods?
I plant banks of colorful annuals, bulbs, and perennials in front of my boxwoods for the greatest impact. Snapdragons and pansies are perfect for early spring, as well as tulips and irises. In summer, boxwoods make a perfect backdrop for lilies, wild amaryllis, zinnias, or any flower that grows well in your area. Fall calls for marigolds and mums.
Pick Plants that won’t Hide your Boxwood Hedge
New plantings of boxwood hedges will look best with shorter flowers and lower growing accent plants. When the boxwoods are more established, you can plant taller perennials and even vegetables in front of them.
Most flowers that are shorter than your hedge will look pretty, but a big splash of color really puts on a show.
Well-established boxwoods have shallow, matted root systems that suck the nutrients and water from the surrounding soil. Boxwoods also create a lot of shade due to their dense leaf cover, so it is best to give your planting beds plenty of space.
You will want your bed to be at least three feet from any boxwood branches.
It is best if the planting area in front of your boxwoods gets plenty of sunlight, especially if you want to grow annuals, perennials, flowers, herbs, or vegetables. If it does, then your choice of plants is almost unlimited.
If your bed is on the north side of your boxwood hedge, you should choose shade-loving plants like begonias, impatiens, coleus, elephant ears, caladiums, or ferns for your planting bed.
Shady beds can be beautiful and very relaxing for the eyes, so never rule them out.
Building Raised Beds in Front of your Boxwoods
When digging, if you find that your boxwood roots are a problem, build raised beds! This will ensure that your boxwood is not harmed by digging and that your bed can provide optimal growing conditions.
Do not build your raised beds out of rock, cement, railroad ties, or any other permanent material. As your boxwood hedges grow, you will need to move your planting beds further away.
I use culled wood planks for my raised beds because they are affordable and relatively lightweight.
I find that I have to move mine every three or four years but it depends on conditions and the variety of boxwood that is growing.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on raised beds, consider just mounding up good garden soil or compost for your planting bed. It will ensure that the area you are planting in front of your boxwoods will support whatever plants you choose.
Bright colored Flowers Make for a Striking Bed in Front of Boxwoods
The color red against the dark green of boxwoods is eye-catching, to say the least. A bed full of red zinnias can be breathtaking.
Other red flowers such as red tulips, red dianthus, red poppies, red lilies, red peonies, red salvia, red cannas, scarlet bee balm, and red cock’s comb come to mind.
Yellow and orange can dazzle when planted in front of a boxwood hedge. Daffodils, primroses, gerbera daisies, marigolds, goldenrods, tiger lilies, and dwarf sunflowers really pop against a green background.
White flowers also look amazing in front of boxwoods. An informal bed with daisies and a bit of baby’s breath is simple and unfussy.
White delphiniums, white pansies, and white vinca add different heights to a flower bed. A more formal planting with white tea roses works especially well as the centerpiece of a garden.
Just add a bench and the scene is set for a relaxing interlude.
Romantic pastels are also an option. Imagine lavender phlox, pink carnations, and baby blue hydrangeas against a boxwood hedge. Just the thought makes me want to try this as a color scheme as soon as possible.
Mixed colors are also attractive. A row of cosmos, mounds of petunias, bunches of bachelor’s buttons, and other species mixed in random patterns are attractive with a carefree vibe.
These types of plantings also provide the perfect habitat for butterflies, ladybugs, praying mantis, and other beneficial insects.
Frequently Asked Questions about What to Plant in Front of Boxwoods
What looks best growing in front of boxwoods?
It depends on your color preferences, growing conditions, soil, climate, planting zone, and many other factors. Always do a soil test and find out what grows best in your area before choosing plants to go in front of your boxwoods.
Are there things I shouldn’t plant in front of my boxwood?
Never plant vines near your boxwoods or they may take over. No matter how pretty the vine, you don’t want honeysuckle, trumpet vine, wisteria, or morning glories trailing through your hedge. It will look messy and overgrown before you know it.
Can I plant vegetables and herbs in front of my boxwoods?
As long as the variety at maturity is not taller than the hedge. The planting area should also receive full sun. You should not plant vegetables like corn or indeterminate tomatoes in front of your boxwood. Don’t plant pole-beans or anything that gets tall enough to need a tee-pee! Stick to lettuce, cilantro, peppers, eggplants, bush tomatoes, and other smaller plants. Some root crops like onions and garlic will also work in front of a boxwood hedge but do not plant potatoes, beets, or turnips. Larger root vegetables will compete with boxwood roots and hinder the growth of both.
Planting in Front of a Boxwood Hedge is Fun
When planting in front of boxwoods, let your imagination run wild. You can go with your favorite color of flowers or plant something to eat.
You might even decide to start a collection of culinary herbs or a butterfly garden.
Mix in some bulbs, wildflowers, medicinal herbs, and small fruits like strawberries for a bounty that will give seasons of pleasure and produce for years to come.
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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.