Boxwood or Buxus: how to plant and care in open ground

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Boxwood or Buxus: how to plant and care in open ground
Boxwood or Buxus: how to plant and care in open ground

Characteristics of the boxwood plant, the rules for planting and growing the buxus in the backyard, breeding methods, how to deal with diseases and pests, curious notes, species and varieties.

Boxwood (Buxus) belongs to the genus of plants included in the family of the same name Boxwood (Buxaceae) and is often found under a name similar to transliteration - Buxus. Based on the information obtained from The Plant List website, this genus unites 104 species. Usually, these representatives of the flora are divided into three groups, in accordance with the areas of their natural growth:

  1. African, covering woodlands and forest-steppe, extending south from the equatorial African territories and on the island of Madagascar.
  2. Central American, comprising tropical and subtropical lands south of the North Mexican regions and Cuba. There are up to 25 endemics (species not found anywhere else on the planet); species native to America are represented by plants with the largest leaves in the genus, having a woody shape and reaching a height of 20 m.
  3. Euro-Asian, stretching from the British Isle lands stretching through the southern European territory, Asia Minor and Western Asia, the Transcaucasus and the Chinese regions to Japan and Sumatra.

Boxwoods are rather unpretentious plants that can settle both on rocky talus from stony ground, and in more comfortable conditions on forest edges, in thickets of shrubs and dark forests of deciduous trees.

Family name Boxwood
Growing period Perennial
Vegetation form Shrub or tree
Breeding methods Seeds or vegetatively (cuttings or layering)
Open ground transplant terms In autumn
Landing rules Saplings are placed, retreating 10-15 cm from each other
Priming Wet, clayey, but drained
Soil acidity values, pH 7 or more (alkaline)
Illumination level Partial shade or strong shading
Humidity level Regular watering, daily in dry weather
Special care rules Top dressing and haircut required
Height options 2-15 m
Flowering period February-April
Type of inflorescences or flowers Paniculate or capitate-spike inflorescences
Color of flowers Pale green or yellowish
Fruit type Seed capsule with three chambers
The timing of fruit ripening At the end of October
Decorative period Year-round
Application in landscape design Forming hedges and borders like a tapeworm in the middle of a lawn for growing bonsai
USDA zone 4–9

The Latin word for boxwood is due to the Greek word "pyxos", meaning "bux", while the origin of this term is still unknown. The word "boxwood" comes from the Persian name "simsad". This plant is mentioned in the works of the ancient Roman poet Ovid (born 43 BC), where the goddess of wisdom and military strategy, Athena, made a boxwood flute for herself. The people can hear the following nicknames for this representative of the flora: green tree or shamshit, as well as gevan and bukshpan.

All types of boxwood are evergreen representatives of the flora, taking on a tree-like shape or a shrub type. Their height ranges from 2–12 m, often stretching 15–20 m. The growth rate is rather slow, since the growth of shoots is measured only 5–6 cm per year. Young twigs are thin, their surface is covered with bark, which has an olive green tone. Over time, the shoots become lignified and acquire a brown color.

Leaf nodes in box trees are located rather close to each other, and leaf plates with short petioles unfold in them in opposite order. The outlines of the leaves are oval or rounded. The edge is one-piece and the surface is smooth, leathery and glossy. On the leaves, you can see a groove that runs next to the central vein. The color of the deciduous mass is monochromatic, dark green in color.

In the period from February to April, the boxwood develops flowers, gathering in inflorescences of small sizes, paniculate or capitate-spike-shaped. The inflorescences of the buxus take their beginning from the leaf sinuses on the newly formed branches. Usually the inflorescence is composed of one pistillate flower surrounded by a large number of stamens. The flowers are unisexual, small in size and against the background of the deciduous mass, their corollas are hardly noticeable. The bract may be the only one in the flower, or there are several of them. The perianth is composed of 3-4 pairs of petals. However, when blooming, an intense aroma spreads around the Gevan plantings.

After pollination occurs, the boxwood sets fruits, represented by three-nested capsules. They ripen at the end of October. Fruiting in buksus begins when it crosses the 16-year mark. Inside the fruit, he has seeds with an oblong shape and a glossy black surface. When the seeds are fully ripe, the capsule cracks and opens.


Any part of the tree is saturated with a poisonous substance, and even boxwood honey is unsuitable for consumption, although this representative of the flora is an excellent honey plant.

Definitely, boxwood looks very interesting and is also characterized by unpretentiousness. His departure can be handled by a gardener who does not have sufficient experience. It is only important to adhere to certain rules of agricultural technology.

Planting and caring for boxwood in open field conditions

Boxwood on the site
Boxwood on the site
  1. Landing place boxwood must be picked up in partial shade or in dense shade. If you plant a buxus in a sunny location, then the foliage will get injured pretty quickly, burn it and the plant will lose its attractiveness.
  2. Primer for the axle box clay and moist, but well-drained, is selected so that moisture and air have access to the roots. Also, the substrate must contain lime, that is, the pH values must be 7 or higher.
  3. Planting boxwood held in autumn - from after the second decade of September to early October. This is because the plant needs about a month to root and then wintering will be successful for it. Some gardeners prefer planting in spring and summer. If the seedling of the buxus has a root system in a pot (closed), then the day before moving to open ground, it is watered abundantly. This will help you easily remove the bush from the container. After that, soil residues are carefully removed from its root shoots, and the plant is placed in a bucket of water for 24 hours (just before planting). When digging a hole for planting, they try to maintain such a size so that it is three times larger than the earthen lump surrounding the root system. The first layer in the groove is a drainage layer that protects the roots of the buxus from waterlogging. It is poured about 2-3 cm. Expanded clay, crushed stone or pebbles can act as such drainage. The soil extracted from the hole is combined with perlite in equal proportions. The drainage layer is covered with a prepared substrate and a seedling is placed on it, straightening its root system. They try to set the stem of the plant vertically, and the root collar should be flush with the soil in the area. After that, all the voids are filled with prepared soil mixture, which is gradually squeezed, removing air. When planting is over, very abundant soil moistening is carried out. If the height of the boxwood seedling is within 15–20 cm, up to 3 liters of water is allocated for it. It is better to use a well-settled liquid or rainwater. When the soil settles slightly after moistening, it will need to be poured a little to the top, but it is no longer necessary to squeeze it. In the root zone, it is recommended to form a small side of the soil, retreating 20-30 cm from the stem of the seedling, this will be a guarantee that when humidified, the water will not spread, but will go straight to the root system. Then the root zone is mulched using a layer of perlite no more than 1–2 cm thick. This will help the soil not dry out so quickly and the weeds to grow. When it is decided to form a border, then about 10-15 cm is left between the plants during placement.
  4. Watering. If, after planting boxwood in open ground, not a single rain falls in a week, then it is recommended to moisten the soil. At the same time, it is noted that a meter-long plant requires up to 10 liters of water. Water is poured directly under the root of the buxus. If the weather has been without precipitation and with a high temperature for a long time, then it is not recommended to change the frequency of watering, but the amount of moisture is increased.
  5. Fertilizers for boxwood, when cultivating it in the open field, it is recommended to make it regularly. The first feeding is done a month after planting, if it was carried out in the spring. This is because fertilizers can be used only when the rooting of the seedling is completely completed. During the active growing season, both complex mineral preparations (for example, Kemiru-Universal) and organic matter (for example, compost) are used. With the arrival of autumn, when digging is carried out, you need to add fertilizing with a potassium or phosphorus composition (such as Kalimat or Ecoplant). Nitrogen preparations are not used, since the plant does not need them.
  6. Transfer when caring for boxwood, it is performed in the spring. This is due to the fact that during the summer and autumn months the tugs manage to take root thoroughly and endure the winter period. It is recommended to transplant adult specimens without destroying the earthen lump. Planting rules are the same as for seedlings.
  7. General advice for caring for boxwood. After each watering or rain, you should carefully loosen the soil in the root zone of the plant, and also combine this operation with weeding. When spring comes and the soil is warmed up enough (approximately at the beginning of May), mulching should be performed, for this, the soil next to the trunk is sprinkled with mulching material, for example, peat chips. The thickness of the mulch should be at least 5–8 cm. It is important that the peat does not come into contact with young branches or with the trunk of the bush.
  8. Pruning when growing boxwood, it is performed in April or in the first week of May. Usually, it is customary to give the buxus bushes the shape of a cone or a ball, but some gardeners give the plant the appearance of a trunk. In this case, all the shoots are cut out at the root, leaving only the central, most powerful and developed one. Those young branches located at the top of the central part of the left shoot are cut off, giving the crown a spherical shape. When cultivating boxwood, it will not do with one crown molding, but this will not have to be done too often, because the growth rate of shoots is not too high. Usually, when molding, only young stems are removed, while the old ones will have to be cut if the shape of the crown is completely lost. Pruning is very easy to carry with boxwood. The more often such an operation is performed, the thicker the crown becomes. The regularity of pruning is once a month. In addition, it was noticed that the more often the shoots of the buxus are cut, the more often it will be necessary to moisten the soil and apply fertilizers. This is because the plant needs strength and nutrition to recover.
  9. Boxwood wintering. Although some species are frost-resistant, winter is generally a difficult time for the plant. This is because the volume of moisture and nutrients that do not fully come from the dormant root system will not be able to satisfy the demands of the stems and deciduous mass of the plant, as soon as they receive ultraviolet fluxes and they begin to dry out. Therefore, for planting, it is recommended to choose a place in the shade and provide the plant with shelter for the winter. Typically, in November, water should be abundant to help the boxwood root system absorb moisture. It is recommended to sprinkle the soil in the near-trunk circle with mulch (for example, peat chips or rotted coniferous litter). Fallen leaves should not be used for this, since if the winter turns out to be damp, then the leaves will begin to rot and the root system will become overmoistened, which will entail the development of fungal diseases. As soon as the column of the thermometer drops below the -10 mark, it is recommended to cover the boxwood bushes. If they are grown in the form of a trunk, then the trunks are tied to a support so that they do not suffer from snowfalls. After that, the crown of the plant is wrapped in a non-woven material (for example, spunbond), or spruce branches can be used to tie the stem. If the standard buxus is adult, then its trunk is whitewashed, and the crown is simply tied with cloth. When growing boxwood curbs or hedges, they should also be covered with burlap or nonwoven fabric. This fabric is folded into 2-3 layers and the edges are fixed by sprinkling with soil. Before sheltering, the bushes must be tied up to protect their shoots from snowfalls that can break them off. If the cuttings of the buxus were planted in the spring or the plants are still quite young, then the strapping is carried out with spruce branches, and the trunk circle of such bushes is sprinkled with mulching material. As soon as the spring warmth sets in, it is recommended to remove the covering material from the boxwood, as it may be damped out. But for this, a cloudy day is selected, leaving non-woven material (burlap or any agrofibre) in 1 layer and a little spruce branches. This will contribute to shading the crown of Gevan, since it is necessary to accustom to the bright rays of the sun little by little.
  10. The use of boxwood in landscape design. Thanks to its crown, this evergreen representative of the flora will look spectacular both in the form of a tapeworm and in group plantings. With the help of such bushes, the formation of borders and hedges, the creation of phytosculptures is carried out.

Read also about planting and caring for Basella outdoors.

Breeding methods for boxwood

Boxwood in the ground
Boxwood in the ground

It is recommended to use the seed and vegetative method to get a new plant of the buxus. The latter refers to the rooting of cuttings or cuttings.

Reproduction of boxwood using seeds

This method is rather slow, as the seed material has a very long dormant period, and also their germination rate drops too quickly. Once the seeds of the green tree have been collected, they are placed in warm water in which any growth stimulant (for example, Kornevin or heteroacetic acid) is dissolved for at least a day. Take two pieces of cloth (you can use towels) and moisten so that they are not too wet. Soaked seed material is placed between them. Some gardeners adapt napkins. Seed towels are placed in a warm place for germination.

Now you should wait (usually for a month) for whitish sprouts to appear from the boxwood seeds. At the same time, the material of towels or napkins must remain constantly wet until this time. If after 14–20 days nothing happens to the seeds, it is recommended to place them in the compartment of the refrigerator for vegetables for stratification (where the temperature is usually in the range of 0–5 degrees), where they must spend several days. After this period, the seeds in the tissue are pulled out and placed back in a warm place.

When the sprouts on the boxwood seeds are clearly visible, then sowing can begin. A container filled with nutritious and loose soil is used for this, you can take sand and peat mixed in equal volumes. When sowing, you need to position the shoots so that they are directed downward (into the ground). After sowing, the substrate is sprayed with warm water from a spray bottle. The container is covered with transparent plastic wrap or a piece of glass can be placed on top to create a greenhouse environment.

When caring for boxwood crops, the shelter is removed every day for 15–20 minutes, if the soil begins to dry out from above, then it is again slightly moistened. The place in which the container with crops is located should also be warm and well-lit, but shading will be required at noon so that the direct streams of ultraviolet radiation do not burn the tender sprouts. After 1–1, 5 weeks, the first shoots should appear above the soil. Then the shelter is removed, but it is better to leave the semi-shady conditions. Boxwood seedlings need regular watering and low concentration fertilization. Waiting for the end of May or the beginning of June, the seedlings will grow and get stronger, and then they can be transplanted into open ground, moving them to a school for growing.

Reproduction of boxwood by cuttings

Both summer and autumn periods are suitable for cutting blanks, but the best result will be in spring. When cutting, cuttings are taken from strong and healthy semi-lignified shoots. The length of the workpieces is kept within 10–15 cm. It is better to cut at an angle. From the bottom of the handle (about a third), all castings are cut off. On the day after this, the blanks are placed in a solution of a root formation stimulator (for example, in Epin).

After this period, boxwood cuttings are washed and planted in open ground, but with a specially prepared composition: leaf earth, compost or rotted humus, river sand (all ingredients in equal parts). Often, gardeners use a special seedling substrate, but it should be light and nutritious. Deepening of the cutting is carried out to the very leaves. Then the seedling is covered with a 5 liter plastic bottle with the bottom cut off.

When caring for boxwood cuttings, it is recommended to carry out daily airing (the lid is removed from the neck of the container) for 10-15 minutes, and they are regularly sprayed with warm water from a fine spray bottle through the neck. After a month, the cuttings will form their own roots, and after 2 months from the moment of planting, the seedling will have a formed root system. During this period, the shelter can be removed.

The first wintering of such boxwood seedlings should take place with the use of a shelter, which can be spruce branches. If this requirement is violated, then young tugs will freeze out.

If they are engaged in cuttings in the autumn period, then the planting of boxwood blanks should be carried out exclusively in pots and such seedlings should be kept indoors until next spring, since if they are planted in open ground, then even if they provide shelter during the winter, they will still die.

Reproduction of boxwood by layering

This method is also successful, as it always gives a positive result. In the spring, several healthy shoots are selected from the bush, growing close to the soil surface. They are bent down and buried in specially dug grooves. During the summer months, the care of the layers will consist of regular moistening of the soil and feeding. After the cuttings have formed their roots, they are carefully separated from the parent specimen and transplanted to a prepared place in the garden.

How to deal with diseases and pests when growing boxwood in the garden?

Boxwood Leaves
Boxwood Leaves

For the axle, the greatest harm is caused by boxwood gall midge or as it is also called miner fly … At the very beginning of June, this pest begins to lay its eggs in young leaf plates growing at the very top of the shoots. It is clear that food is needed for the larvae that have appeared, and they begin to eat away the leaf tissue, remaining in the folded leaves for the winter period. With the arrival of May, new adult insects hatch from the formed pupae. If there are a lot of such midges on the buxus, then the deciduous mass begins to dry out gradually, and then parts of the plant die off. For the fight, it is recommended to use insecticidal agents like Akrata, Karbofos or Fufanon. After 20 days from the moment of the first treatment, re-spraying is performed.

With the same drugs, you can get rid of such a pest as felter … Swollen places on the leaves of the plant become signs of infection of boxwood with this insect, and shoots are taken to wither unswervingly. The next pest is spider mitesucking nutritious juices from the leaf plates of the buxus. Then the leaves begin to turn yellow, dry and fly around, and the shoots are covered with a whitish thin cobweb. Long dry periods contribute to the appearance of this harmful insect. You can fight spider mites with the same drugs or others with a similar spectrum of action.

Of the diseases that affect boxwood, there are:

  • Shoot necrosis, manifested by the formation of dark spots and dying shoots on the deciduous mass. For treatment, it is recommended to spray with fungicidal preparations (for example, Fundazol). It will take several treatments, maintaining weekly breaks between them.
  • Cancercaused by bacteria or infections and contributes to the formation of growths and tumors on foliage and stems. All parts of the affected bush on the plant must be removed, while capturing part of the healthy wood. Then you need treatment with Fundazol and garden var.

See also how to protect amaryllis from disease.

Curious notes about buksus

Boxwood grows
Boxwood grows

Since ancient times, people have noted the beautiful crown and deciduous mass of boxwood, therefore, for a long time, the plant has been used in decorating plots. In addition, as you know, a haircut by this representative of the flora is very easily tolerated, which makes it possible with imagination to carry out the formation of both curbs and hedges, and spectacular green sculptures.

On Palm Sunday, Catholics in Western European countries, as well as Orthodox Georgian Christians, are used to decorate their homes with boxwood shoots. If you dry the wood of the buxus, then it is characterized by a uniform color, changing from a light yellow to a waxy shade, and over time this color does not begin to darken. Also, this material in dry has a high density, with indicators of 830-1300 kg per m3. In terms of its strength, boxwood wood surpasses even hornbeam. Therefore, it is used for the manufacture of household utensils (dishes, chess pieces, etc.), musical instruments, some parts of mechanisms that require high wear resistance, as well as smoking pipes. At the same time, the price of such material is very high and it is quite rare on the market.

Also noted are the medicinal features of boxwood. The drugs prepared on the basis of it were prescribed for diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, cough, chronic fever and even malaria, since they act like quinine. However, due to the toxicity of such drugs, they are rarely used, since it is difficult to correctly determine their dosage. If the dose is exaggerated, it can cause vomiting, seizures, and even death. In homeopathy, boxwood medicines are allegedly used to treat rheumatism.

Types and varieties of boxwood

In the photo Boxwood evergreen
In the photo Boxwood evergreen

Boxwood evergreen (Buxus sempervirens)

comes from the Mediterranean and the Caucasus. It is found in undergrowth of mixed species of trees, in deciduous forests, where there is a strong shade. It grows in the form of a tree, reaching 15 m in height, but it can also take on shrub forms. The stems of the plant grow straight, with a green color and a tetrahedral surface. They are covered with dense foliage. The leaf plates are opposite. They are practically devoid of petioles, the surface of the leaves is glossy, bare. The front side has a dark green color, and the reverse is characterized by dullness and a paler color, sometimes even yellowing is present. The shape of the leaves is oblong-elliptical, the length is 3-15 cm.

During spring flowering, capitate inflorescences formed from small unisexual flowers are formed in the evergreen boxwood. The color of their petals is pale greenish and is lost against the background of deciduous mass. The fruit is a small box with spherical outlines, which opens through the valves. The leaves will open when the glossy black seeds are fully ripe. The plant is completely poisonous.

The most popular varieties of boxwood are evergreen in horticulture:

  • Suffruticosa is a shrub with evergreen foliage and a very slow growth rate. The height, which the vertical shoots reach, is 1 m. The leaves on them are located in an opposite sequence, characterized by an ovoid or obovate shape. Their length is measured in 2 cm. Flowers are small. It is recommended to use this variety of boxwood evergreen when forming curbs or hedges.
  • Blauer Heinz also a shrub with small size and low growth rate. It differs from the previous variety by its high rigidity of shoots, compact outlines and frost resistance. Leaves with a leathery surface are characterized by a greenish-blue color. The variety was recently bred and is used in landscape design to form carpet ornaments, since the height of the stems does not exceed 0.2 m.
  • Elegans an evergreen boxwood variety with a compacted spherical crown. The height of the shoots, characterized by dense foliage, approaches the mark of 1 m. Leaf plates with a variegated color, due to a whitish border. Quite drought tolerant.
In the photo Small-leaved boxwood
In the photo Small-leaved boxwood

Small-leaved boxwood (Buxus microphylla)

This species can boast of greater frost resistance than evergreen boxwood, since without shelter it perfectly survives frosts down to -30 degrees. However, with the arrival of spring, it requires providing it with shelter from direct sunlight. Is of Japanese or Korean origin. It is an evergreen shrub or small tree. Leaves are bright green, 10–25 mm long, oval with a rounded or serrated tip. The species was first described from Japanese cultivated plants of unknown origin, capable of taking on the form of dwarf shrubs that grow only up to 1 m in height and have small leaves less than 18 mm in length.

The most popular among gardeners are the varieties of small-leaved boxwood:

  • Vinte Gem (Winter Gem) or Winter pearl with high frost resistance and growth rate. The height of the shoots does not exceed 1.5 m. The crown of the plant is dense. Recommended for growing topiary figures in landscape design.
  • Faulkner has a shrub shape and compact outline, the growth rate is slow. The height of the plant reaches 1.5 m. It tolerates pruning well, therefore, its crown is given a spherical shape.
In the photo Boxwood Colchis
In the photo Boxwood Colchis

Colchis boxwood (Buxus colchica)

may occur under the name Caucasian boxwood … As it is clear from the specific name, the species comes from the territory of the Caucasus and Transcaucasia. It is a relict plant dating back to the Tertiary period (65–1, 8 million years ago). The growth rate is slow, it is characterized by the highest indicators of frost resistance. The foliage is very small. Instances of this species can live up to six hundred years, while the height indicators reach only 15–20 m. The trunk of the plant at the base is measured about 30 cm in diameter.

In the photo Boxwood Balearic
In the photo Boxwood Balearic

Balearic boxwood (Buxus balearica)

has the westernmost origin of all species of the genus, which includes the Spanish lands and the Balearic island territories, as well as Portugal and the Atlas Mountains, in the northern regions of Morocco. If the plant grows in the Euro-Asian zone, then it is characterized by larger leaf plates. The width of the leaves is 3 cm with a length of about 4 cm. The growth rate is significant and the representative of the flora itself has spectacular outlines, but does not have frost-resistant qualities due to its thermophilicity.

There are a large number of other types of buxus, but they are not of interest for gardening and landscape design.

Related article: Recommendations for planting and caring for arnica outdoors

Video about growing boxwood in open field conditions:

Photos of boxwood:

Boxwood Photo 1
Boxwood Photo 1
Photo of Boxwood 2
Photo of Boxwood 2
Boxwood Photo 3
Boxwood Photo 3
Photo of Boxwood 4
Photo of Boxwood 4
Boxwood Photos 5
Boxwood Photos 5

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