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Boxwood Buxus

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
BUK-sus
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Buxus is the Latin name for boxwood or box tree. Boxwoods, originally from Europe and Asia, are evergreen shrubs.  They are one of the oldest known garden plants dating back to 4000 BC. Today there are about 150 commercially available species and cultivars of boxwoods with a large variability in hardiness, shape and leaf characteristics.  Boxwoods are best known for their low maintenance, dense growth habit and dear resistance making them a favorite shrub for hedges, topiary and bonsai.

The American boxwood is a spreading shrub or small tree that can grow quite large if not pruned and can be easily shaped into form.  The Littleleaf or Japanese boxwood is a lower growing shrub with bright green, oval leaves and makes a good choice for formal hedges. Dwarf varieties can serve as attractive accents and walkway borders. Most boxwoods are suitable for USDA zones 5-9,  Hybrid boxwood varieties are available that can tolerate cold down to USDA zones 4-5.

Boxwoods are easy to grow, take little maintenance and are very tolerant of a range of soil types with optimal pH in the 5.5-7.2 range.  They prefer partial or dappled shade but can tolerate full sun.  Some varieties may experience bronzing of the foliage with sun overexposure particularly in the winter.  While tolerant of some drought, boxwoods should be mulched and irrigated during long dry periods particularly in the first year to prevent stress that may make them susceptible to disease.

This plant is deer and rabbit resistant.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Leaves opposite, apex or retuse apices
  • Stems square
  • Leaves with white pubescence along midrib below
  • Leaves about 1" long
  • Malodorous

Insects, Diseases and Other Plant Problems: 

Some susceptibility to leaf spot and  boxwood blight that causes premature defoliation and dieback.  Poorly drained soils may cause root rot. Common pests include the boxwood leaf miner, boxwood psyllid, and boxwood mites. In the deep south, nematodes are of concern.

 

For suitable alternatives, see this video created by Charlotte Glen as part of the Plants, Pests, and Pathogens series.

VIDEO Created by Elizabeth Meyer for "Trees, Shrubs and Conifers" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Coastal Rain Garden Michael McCarthy Memorial Garden, All Saints Episcopal, Concord English Garden Boxwood Parterre Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
Buxus 'Green Gem', Buxus 'Green Mountain', Buxus 'Green Velvet', Buxus harlandii, Buxus microphylla, Buxus microphylla var. japonica, Buxus microphylla var. japonica 'Borderline', Buxus sempervirens, Buxus sempervirens 'Arborescens', Buxus sempervirens 'Aureovariegata', Buxus sempervirens 'Elegantissima', Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa', Buxus sempervirens 'Vardar Valley', Buxus sinica
Tags:
#evergreen#shrub#slow growing#bonsai#winter interest#tsc#rabbit resistant#topiary#hedges#deer resistant#small flowers#problem for cats#tsc-s#problem for dogs#problem for horses#shearing#mccarthy memorial garden
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Buxus 'Green Gem', Buxus 'Green Mountain', Buxus 'Green Velvet', Buxus harlandii, Buxus microphylla, Buxus microphylla var. japonica, Buxus microphylla var. japonica 'Borderline', Buxus sempervirens, Buxus sempervirens 'Arborescens', Buxus sempervirens 'Aureovariegata', Buxus sempervirens 'Elegantissima', Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa', Buxus sempervirens 'Vardar Valley', Buxus sinica
Tags:
#evergreen#shrub#slow growing#bonsai#winter interest#tsc#rabbit resistant#topiary#hedges#deer resistant#small flowers#problem for cats#tsc-s#problem for dogs#problem for horses#shearing#mccarthy memorial garden
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Buxus
    Family:
    Buxaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe and Asia
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Perennial
    Shrub
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Multi-stemmed
    Rounded
    Vase
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    6-feet-12 feet
    12-24 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Inconspicuous and not showy
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Non-showy, creamy yellow flowers have a malodorous smell and attract dogs. Flowers are monoecious.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    White
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Oblong
    Obovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    This plant has apex/ retuse apices and sometimes have notches. Under the leaf, they have a white midrib.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Square
    Stem Description:
    New stems green, mature to brown, square shape.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Lawn
    Patio
    Small Space
    Walkways
    Landscape Theme:
    Asian Garden
    Cottage Garden
    English Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Barrier
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Rabbits
    Problems:
    Contact Dermatitis
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Skin irritation minor or lasting only for a few minutes. If ingested, can cause nausea, diarrhea, dizziness and vomiting. Dogs and cats: vomiting, diarrhea; Horses: colic, diarrhea, respiratory failure, seizures.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Steroidal alkaloids
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Bark
    Leaves