Along the Garden Path: Boxwoods add to any garden


There is time to plant some fall shrubs and perennials. A favorite shrub is Buxus microphylla koreanna; Buxus is the Latin name for Boxwood, microphylla translates as little leaf and koreana translates as from Korea. Buxus sempervirens translates to ‘always green’. Interesting, isn’t it?

Boxwood plants brought over from Amsterdam found a new home on Long Island, NY in 1653 according to the American Boxwood Society. Over 350 years later we still use them for hedges, foundations plantings, specimen’s accents in containers and in topiary and bonsai. Today’s 365 known cultivars exhibit improved heat and cold tolerance and disease resistance. One cultivar, Buxus microphylla japonica Winter Gem, among the hardiest of boxwood, retains its rich green foliage through the winter, acquiring golden bronze highlights.

Boxwoods are miniature to large shrubs, depending upon species, hybrid, or cultivar with its many forms. Small versions slowly grow to 2 foot tall by 2 foot wide whereas a larger version matures after many years at 15 foot tall by 15 foot wide. Boxwoods grow in full sun to full shade. They like moist, well-drained, rich soils. Boxwood is a great filler or line material for small and miniature arrangements and designs.

This shrub can be propagated primarily by rooted stem cuttings. They are coaxed into decorative topiaries, shaped into tall thick hedges that hide and protect other plants. The beautiful showcased boxwood plantings in Colonial Williamsburg are outstanding.

Flowers on the Boxwood can be cream-colored inflorescences in late April and early May that occur primarily on established shrubs, being noticeable but not showy somewhat malodorous or pungently fragrant (depending upon personal perception) and attracting many bees.

Varieties for Ohio are Buxus microphylla koreana Winter Gem, the fastest growing of all the modern Boxwoods, and often needs to be sheared twice in a growing season if maintained in a formal shrub appearance or as a formal hedge; Green Gem grows 2 foot tall by 2 foot wide. Green Mound grows 3 foot tall by 3 foot wide. Larger varieties are Green Mountain growing 5 foot tall by 3 foot wide and Green Velvet with 3 foot tall by 3 foot wide. A small sized boxwood is Baby Gem which is great for low hedges because of its small size.

Just about every boxwood is a candidate for a container because they look just as good in January as they do in June. Choose a good drainage pot that is a least as wide and tall as the plant itself and preferably bigger. The larger the container, the more soil it holds, the less often you have to water.

This shrub is becoming hardier now thanks to the many selection options. The choices are practically customized to suit your needs. Avoid planting them in serious heat. Water about once a week for the first year, less in wet periods. Once established, boxwoods can be relatively low maintenance. Somewhere there’s a boxwood for every size and spot of your garden.

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By Charlene Thornhill

Along the Garden Path

Charlene Thornhill is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her community column Along the Garden Path. She can be reached at chardonn@embarqmail.com. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.