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Boxwood in the garden: tips for cutting and care
Boxwood in the garden: tips for cutting and care

Video: Boxwood in the garden: tips for cutting and care

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Video: How to Care for Boxwoods | At Home With P. Allen Smith 2023, January

By the 1980s, the boxwood had almost disappeared from the tree nursery range. Today he is experiencing a real renaissance. Whether as a privacy screen, as a low or high hedge, as an evergreen ground cover or an elegant green sculpture - boxwood can be used in a variety of ways in the garden. With boxwood you have the choice between one cut per year or multiple cuts.

Boxwood grows wild as a shrub or small tree in southern and central Europe, in England and Norway, in Algeria, Asia Minor, in the Caucasus and on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea. There are about 30 wild boxwood species and a total of around 70 species belonging to the genus boxwood family.

All boxwood species have some botanical properties in common, for example the evergreen, leathery and egg-shaped leaves. They are significantly lighter on the underside than on the top, and depending on the type, the leaf length varies between half a centimeter to four centimeters. From the age of ten, tiny, grape-shaped flower buds appear in spring, which then begin to bloom yellow in dense clusters with tiny flowers a few millimeters in size. The greenish capsule fruits ripen from September.

One of the most beautiful species is the Spanish boxwood (Buxus balearica) with up to four centimeters long, narrow green leaves. Unfortunately, it is not frost-hardy and only thrives in the extreme south of Europe and in mild soul climates. The Buxus harlandii and Buxus henryi, which is native to China, and Buxus wallichiana from India are similarly sensitive to frost. We can only grow these species in buckets or in cold houses. The still growing wild boxwood species in Europe today is the Buxus sempervirens ("evergreen boxwood"), from which most of the cultivated varieties come. In addition, the frost-hardy Buxus microphylla from Asia can be found in gardens and parks.

Location and soil

The boxwood thrives best on calcareous, moist soils with high air and soil moisture. This means that you should ensure that the earth is moist and permeable. Improve very sandy soils with a good amount of mature compost, heavy soils with a drainage of sand or gravel. As a location, the boxwood prefers a shady spot, since it could react with leaf damage if the sun is too much and too strong.

Plant a boxwood


You need space to trim and maintain a boxwood figure. Don't put them too tight.

Photo: BGL / PdM

When planting container or bale plants, the planting hole should be as deep as the root ball - the root neck should be flush with the surface of the soil. In order for the roots to have sufficient space, bale jute should be cut open in several places and plastic bale should be removed completely. In uncut form, boxwood is ideal as a companion plant for flower beds. Especially dense bushy and low-growing varieties result in easy-care accompanying plants for iris, bellflower, lady's mantle or roses. If you later want to bring a single plant into a specific shape by deliberate cutting, keep in mind that you need enough space around the plant to care for and cut.

Boxwood hedges provide a beautiful, clear frame for beds. To plant a hedge, first dig a continuous planting ditch, loosen the bottom of the trench and improve it with compost. To place the plants in a straight line, tighten an auxiliary cord. If you are planting a hedge or border, you should place the boxwood relatively close: for borders, ten plants per meter are a good guide, for higher hedges about five. To fill, mix the excavated soil with compost again. It is recommended to pull a watering trough, which is closed again after the first pouring.

Water and fertilize the boxwood

The boxwood must never dry out - not even in winter! It is best to water the plant early in the morning or late in the summer, but never in the hot midday hours. It is also better to water extensively instead of several times in smaller quantities with stale, warm water from the rain barrel. During long periods of heat, you should occasionally shower the plant to remove dust from the leaves.

For good growth and dense foliage, the plant must be sparingly supplied with fertilizer (nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus) from April to August. Long-term fertilizers, such as depot fertilizers or horn chips, which release their nutrients slowly and evenly, are ideal. The fertilizer is applied for the first time in April according to the package instructions in the root area and is easily worked into the soil. The second fertilizer application takes place at the end of June and stimulates growth. As of August, you should stop using fertilizer. This allows the plant shoots to mature well and survive the winter.


The boxwood can tolerate any kind of pruning without any problems from spring.

Photo: BGL / PdM

The boxwood cut

The boxwood can tolerate any kind of pruning without any problems from spring. Monthly pruning is recommended (for figures) - a single pruning, preferably in July, is sufficient, however, so that the plant does not get completely out of shape. If July is a rainy month, postpone the cut by a few days so that mushrooms are not attacked. In hot summers, it is a good idea to protect the freshly trimmed box trees from the sun with a fleece, since otherwise older leaves inside can be damaged by the strong sunlight. You can shorten neglected boxwood hedges or figures without worrying too much, down to the basic structure, even into the perennial wood.

The shape cut

With the right cutting technique, you can avoid irregularities in the appearance, i.e. hardly any holes in the leaves. Always leave a small remnant of the fresh shoots. Start the topiary with small cuts around the sapling and slowly move closer to the desired figure. If you accidentally cut a little deeper, you do not have to worry about the boxwood, as it will drift through again without much effort.

If you do not want to cut the figure by hand, you have the option of using templates. For a ball, for example, cut a circle out of sturdy cardboard, lay it all around on the boxwood and cut off the outstanding shoots. You work in the same way for geometric figures, but with wooden slats.

The boxwood propagation

Boxwood is usually propagated using torn cuttings. To do this, simply tear branches 10 to 15 centimeters long from the branch axils of older shoots, pluck the lower leaves, stick the risslings into loose soil and press them firmly. If you keep the soil moist, the first roots have formed after about half a year and after two years you can plant your own box trees.

Boxwood diseases and pests

In the past few years in particular, the boxwood has been haunted by shoot death (Cylindrocladium) and attacked by the East Asian boxwood borer (Cydalima perspectalis). It is devastating that the small caterpillars of the butterfly not only eat leaves, but also the soft bark, which is why entire shoots often die. Once the boxwood is infected, only a vigorous pruning and subsequent spraying with the high-pressure cleaner will help. You can prevent this glutton by spraying the boxwood regularly with a preparation based on Bacillus thuringiensis.

The shoot death is manifested by brown to black, increasing spots on the leaves and simultaneous formation of spores under the leaves. Unfortunately, only a radical cut with subsequent fungicide treatment helps against the fungus. The best prophylaxis is a sunny, airy location and avoiding unnecessarily damp leaves. That means: only pour from below.

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