Content Detail

Boxwoods are excellent, low-growing, evergreen shrubs with dark green, finely textured leaves. Boxwoods can be used as hedges, rounded specimens, and neatly compact background plants in any landscape. Many of the boxwoods sold today are hybrids with complex parentage.

  • Family (English) Boxwood
  • Family (botanic) Buxaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Foliage Evergreen (foliage year-round)
  • Native locale Non-native
  • Size range Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet), Small shrub (3-5 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8
  • Soil preference Alkaline soil, Moist, well-drained soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Dry sites
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous, Fragrant
  • Shape or form Mounded, Round
  • Growth rate Slow

Native geographic location and habitat:

Most boxwood cultivars are hybrids with complex parentage.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Simple, opposite, finely-textured leaves are 1/2 inch long and dark green to medium green. Leaves are elliptical to oblong. Some cultivars can turn yellow-green or coppery during winter months. Some plants are malodorous.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Tiny, fragrant, creamy yellow clusters form in the leaf axils. They are ornamentally unimportant.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

The fruit is a small capsule which is not ornamentally important.

Plant care:

Boxwoods grow best in loose, well-drained soil. They need to be  protected from windy sites and kept well-watered, especially in late fall before the ground freezes. Plants benefit with 2 to 3 inches of mulch to moderate soil moisture. Prune in early spring. Plants can be sheared or pruned to make a hedge.

List of pests and diseases:

Boxwood psyllids and leaf miners are possible insect problems, as are stem cankers. They are sensitive to road salts and winter burn.

Note: Boxwood cultivars have confusing parental categories. All are hybrids.

Chicagoland Green® boxwood  (Buxus ‘Glencoe’): 

This is 2 to 3 feet high and wide with a  compact, rounded form that retains its green color well in winter. It  is  a Chicagoland Grows® introduction.

Green Gem boxwood (Buxus ‘Green Gem’): 

This cultivar is 2 feet high and wide with a  mounded form. It is  slower growing than other boxwoods and retains its deep green color in winter.

Green Mound boxwood (Buxus ‘Green Mound’ ):  

This cultivar is  2 to 3 feet high and wide with a  rounded form. It has  small, glossy green, rounded leaves that remain green all winter.

Green Mountain boxwood (Buxus ‘Green Mountain’): 

This cultivar is 4 to 5 feet high and 3 to 4 feet wide. It has a wide pyramidal form and  dark green leaves which may turn bronze in winter when planted in sunny locations.

Green Velvet boxwood (Buxus ‘Green Velvet’):

 This globe-shaped cultivar is 2 to 3 feet high and wide. Its leaves retain their dark green color in winter.

Northern Charm™ boxwood (Buxus ‘Wilson’):  

This cultivar is 2 to 3 feet high and wide, compact, and  oval to rounded in shape. It is  hardy to zone 4. A Chicagoland Grows™ introduction.


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