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Boxwood – A Landscape Essential

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Evergreens are an important part of any landscape, whether they're used in the front yard or spotted in a garden setting. The standard recommendation is to have at least one-third of the plant material in the front landscape be evergreen. This helps provide for year-round interest and color. Using evergreens in the perennial garden also provides year-round interest and creates what many call the “bones” of the garden — the constant structure needed to provide a garden’s character.

Boxwood is grown throughout the country and is as well adapted as any other evergreen to our ever-changing weather patterns. Boxwood will tolerate full sun to light shade. All it really asks is some extra water during the dry spells once it is established. It also requires good drainage because it will not tolerate wet soil.

A nice quality about this plant is its smaller growth habit, which works perfectly in a number of different settings because it does not outgrow its designated area and become difficult to manage. Many other evergreens grow tall and wide, making them difficult to situate without pruning later.

Boxwood Varieties
Like many other plants, there are numerous cultivars of boxwood on the market which can make it confusing when making your selection. Some will argue that there is a big difference between Buxus sempervirens or Buxus macrophylla, or many of the crossed species, but I believe the differences are minor. But to the discerning person, you will notice varying leaf sizes and slight color differences during the winter months, as some varieties tend to hold the dark glossy green foliage while others have a bronze cast.

The following are a few of the more common varieties on the market and ones that should be added to the landscape:
‘Green Mountain’ – Is the best upright, cone shaped variety on the market. It has nice dark green leaves which may bronze slightly over the winter, and works well to make a statement in the garden with its shape. It will grow 3 to 5 feet high and 2 to 3 feet wide.

Green Tower (‘Monrue’) – Is a narrow, upright right form developing into, as the name implies, a tower, becoming more flat topped. It’s best used as an accent or as a narrow hedge. It will reach 6 to 8 feet with time and stay under 2 feet wide.

‘Green Velvet’ – Is the perfect match for either Green Mountain or Green Tower. If left in its natural shape it will develop into a nice rounded globe shaped shrub, growing to a height and spread of 3 to 4 feet. It also works well in a sheared hedge as a border.

‘Wintergreen’ – May be the most common variety found on the market. This is the industry favorite to grow in 1 gallon containers. They sell for around $5 each as a small plant at box stores. ‘Wintergreen’ is a Korean boxwood which normally has smaller leaves and may tend to bronze during the winter. But overall, it is a nice boxwood. It stays small, 3 to 4 feet tall and wide.

The market will soon be flooded with many new cultivars of boxwood. The industry trend for many of these newer varieties is dwarf, in both overall size of plant and leaf size. These will be a little more pricey once they hit the market. If you have not planted boxwood in your garden take another look, as it truly does deserve a place in the landscape.


Other Resources

Have questions? The Garden Hotline is staffed by trained EMG volunteers and Extension staff who will assist you with questions.

Do you need help selecting a tree? Give our Garden Hotline a call (913-715-7050).  Email detailed photos with your questions to garden.help@jocogov.org