Add some year round greenery to your landscape with shade tolerant boxwoods.
These broadleaf evergreens can be sheared and shaped for a formal garden or allowed to grow into their natural shape for a more informal look.
Proper selection and placement in the landscape is key to success. Choose one of the hardy varieties that stay green throughout winter. Plant boxwood in full sun to partial shade in an area where it will be sheltered from drying winter wind and sun.
Two different boxwoods go by the common name Korean boxwood. One, Buxus microphylla var.koreana is hardy, grows 4 feet tall and wide. The other is Buxus sinica var. insularis is shorter, 30 inches tall, but wider spreading to 4 feet.
You'll find several boxwood hybrids that were developed for cold hardiness and excellent leaf color throughout the year. Chicagoland Green is a compact cultivar that grows 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. It has glossy green foliage and makes an excellent small formal hedge. For a broader more rounded plant grow 'Green Velvet' that can reach 4 feet in height and width. Green Mountain is more upright growing about 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide.
Small flowers form in early spring. Although the flowers are not noticeable they are fragrant and attract the bees. Plus the deer tend to leave them be.
Minimal pruning will be needed if you select the boxwood that best fits your landscape design and the available space. Lightly prune wayward branches for a natural look or shear and shape to the desired form. Prune late winter through early spring. Then touch up hedges as needed in early summer. Avoid pruning after August 1st. Late summer pruning can encourage late season growth that can be winter killed.
Use boxwoods as an evergreen hedge, border, edger, backdrop for flower gardens, or year round accents. The plants tolerate shearing but are also beautiful when allowed to grow to their natural size and shape.
At a Glance
Name: Boxwood (Buxus microphylla hybrids and varieties)
Size: 3 to 4' tall and wide, size varies with variety
Light: Full sun to partial shade, shelter from drying winter wind and sun
Water: Thoroughly whenever top few inches of soil are crumbly and slightly moist
Soil: Moist not wet, mulch to keep roots cool and moist
Written by, gardening expert, Melinda Myers. Each month Melinda will feature a low maintenance plant perfect for beginning and experienced gardeners looking for attractive easy care plants. Melinda Myers is a nationally recognized gardening expert with more than 30 years of horticulture experience. She is a wealth of knowledge and we are pleased to share Melinda’s Low Maintenance Plant of the Month with you!