The boxwood bush is also alternately called a tree, but its most common and popular use is as a hedge. It is a very malleable, flexible shrub that can happily be pruned into a variety of shapes and sizes for accent gardening. Boxwood bushes can grow between two and 15 feet in height, depending on pruning and shaping. There are more than 70 different varieties in the Boxwood family, and they have different appearance and characteristics. They go by different names but are all from the same family. Some common names include European boxwood, pale boxwood, English hedge, common boxwood, and English shrub. Some types are cold and frost tolerant, while others prefer tropical or sub tropical climates. However, all varietals are evergreen and none grow quickly. However, while Boxwood is an evergreen, it does not behave like a typical evergreen. Boxwood will die back partway in the winter, and will lose color and some leaves. In the springtime Boxwood will begin to flourish once again.
Most Boxwood is transplanted and shipped when it is still quite young as this is safest. The larger the Boxwood is when it is transplanted, the less likely it is to survive transplantation. Since Boxwood is slow growing it is important not to select Boxwood if a fast growing shrub or hedge is desired. Commercially available Boxwood will average about a foot in height. However, given patience and appropriate care it will grow into a large, dense, effective privacy screen or hedge. At maturity Boxwood can reach as high as ten feet.
Boxwood is a very hungry shrub and requires frequent fertilizer and nutrient rich soil to thrive. Boxwood doesn't really care much where the nutrients come from, so commercial fertilizers, mulch, coffee grounds, manure, and compost are all excellent choices to feed growing Boxwood. Boxwood also prefers acidic soil. Boxwood should be well mulched with straw, dry leaves, wood chips for protection as well as nutrition. To prepare for planting, dig a hole that is twice the size of the Boxwood root ball. Place the root ball, fill the hole half full with soil and then water thoroughly. Allow the hole to drain, and then continue to fill with soil. Then layer the mulch over the top of the soil. However, after the initial watering, Boxwood may not need watering again unless there is drought.
Boxwood can literally be pruned into any size or shape. Boxwood is the shrub often used to spell out a company name in letters on the front lawn, or topiaries in various shapes, including human and animal. Boxwood can be pruned before it starts its spring growth patterns to remove dead or diseased winter growth. Pinching emerging growth during the spring and summer growing season can also encourage even thicker, bushier growth and produce a thicker privacy hedge.
Boxwood shrubs are susceptible to twig blight, root rot, canker, nematodes, leafminer, mites, and psyllid insects. Treatment is usually a combination of pest removal by hand and treatment with commercial pest sprays.