Learn more about the most popular landscaping bush and discover the different types of boxwood that you can incorporate into your formal or informal garden for that wow factor.
Also known as box or Buxus, boxwood (buxus sempervirens) is one of the most popular genuses in the Buxaceae family which comprises 70 species altogether. This evergreen shrub is native to several regions including southwest, southern and eastern Asia, western and southern Europe, northern South America, Central America, Madagascar, Mexico, Africa, and the Caribbean. However, it is primarily distributed in Cuba, China, and Madagascar.
Boxwoods happen to be the most popular landscape bush. For both formal and informal gardens, these slow-growing shrubs are used. These small trees are able to shoot up to 2 to 12 m tall; the leaves are usually round or lanceolate in shape with hard-like leather texture, boasting 1.5 to 5 cm length and 0.3 to 2.5 cm width. These shrubs rarely produce flowers; that being said, some species do exhibit small, yellow-green flowers in both sexes (male and female). The fruits are small in a capsule-like shape, possessing 0.5 to 1.5 cm length and several tiny seeds inside of them.
For boxwoods to grow properly in their thick coat of evergreen leaves, the shrubs need to be cultivated in a moist, well-drained, and slightly acidic soil. Short hedges tend to make an ideal border and edging in houses and buildings while the taller ones create super hedges for screening against full sun and protection against strong winter winds.
Research shows that there are over 200 boxwood varieties; out of which 140 of them are available for commercial use by the cultivators. In this blog post, we’ve compiled all those common boxwood varieties that are popularly used all over the world for stunning landscape projects.
Table of Contents
English boxwood is often referred to as dwarf boxwood due to its slow growth rate. While it is a slow-growing plant, English boxwood is a super stylish and refined evergreen shrub that can add beauty to any form of landscape. English boxwood is found in a variety of posh areas including the colonial gardens of Williamsburg, Virginia, and even at the White House.
The shrub is admired for its lovely thickly packed, light-green leaves which grow in a round form. The plant is able to reach up to three feet at maturity; however, different varieties tend to possess different growth size. With the help of pruning, all types of English boxwoods can be maintained. The roots of English boxwood are shallow and hence they must be protected against excessive heat.
There should also be a protective layer of garden mulch around the plant. But make sure not to mulch up to the trunk of the bush as it may invite unnecessary pests. It is also important to address the common problem that English boxwood usually faces – “winter bronzing” This is the result of a change in green foliage to reddish-brown to ultimately yellow color due to the drying effect of sun and wind over the plant. This excruciating problem can be solved by spraying an anti-desiccant on these winter gems in late November and January. Also, cover a protective layer around the plant during winters.
Scientifically known as Buxus Sempervirens, American boxwood is a dark green, shimmery, and an evergreen shrub – super easy to maintain and a pest and disease resistant too. Also known as common boxwood, American boxwood can grow up to 10 feet in height; some of them can grow up to 20 feet as well.
People living in cold or cooler regions can consider opting for American boxwood as this dark-green shrub has the potential to withstand extremely cold temperatures and harsh winds. What’s more amazing is that these bushes tend to be drought resistant too.
While the sturdy American boxwoods are disease resistant, sometimes the plant can become a victim to certain diseases such as root rot, canker, and nematodes. To protect your shrub from diseases, make sure that it has ideal pH levels and soil conditions. It is also suggested to spray the plant with half water and half dish detergent.
American boxwoods have several varieties; some popular ones are as follows:
Dee Runk Boxwood
Also known by its botanical name – Buxus sempervirens – dee runk is a broad-leafed evergreen shrub that grows in a narrow and upright position. Oval in shape with dark green leaves, the tall plant has the ability to shoot up to 10 to 12 feet in height. This shrub can be used in an enclosed area in front of the house or the back area. The plant is the perfect choice if the owner is looking for full sun or partial shade.
This is a dense evergreen shrub with dark green foliage. It boasts tiny, glossy, and oval leaves that tend to remain dark green even in winters. It grows in a pyramid structure that attracts bees. That being said, the plant is not a favorite to deer that tend to stay away from such shrubs.
Fastigiata boxwood is ideal for hedges or screening. The best part is that they easily survive with other surrounding plants as well.
Vardar Valley Boxwood
This is a small, rounded tree native to woodlands and rocky hillsides. The evergreen plant has the tendency to grow as tall as a huge tree. As it matures, the shrub produces elliptical, oval, and oblong shaped leaves. Like other American boxwoods, Vardar valley consists of dark green leaves.
Make sure to cultivate this glossy shrub in moist soil with a slightly acidic pH level. Since it is pruning tolerant, it is ideal to prune the shrub in early spring as doing so will promote healthy growth of new leaves which might be killed in last spring frost. The plant also needs extra protection during winters as it may suffer from mite attacks.
Also known as littleleaf box, Japanese boxwood (Buxus Microphylla) is an evergreen shrub that has a slow growth rate like English boxwood. While it is a slow-growing plant, the shrub is tolerant of prunes and can be used for engraving purposes.
This hardy plant stays evergreen from April all the way to May which means that its blooming period falls in the spring season. When full bloom, this full-rounded plant exhibits striking green leaves in the form of a low hedge. The shrub also produces flowers of both sexes (male and female) and is pollinated by flies and bees.
For the healthy growth of Japanese boxwoods, it is crucial to ensure that the soil is well-drained with acidic pH level. When the soil is wet, the foliage boasts a pungent scent which is quite prominent. The plant is easy to grow in both semi-shade and no shade at all; what’s important is that the soil must be moist.
It is an easy-to-care plant which requires occasional maintenance. Since it grows slow, you won’t require pruning as often as possible. It is ideal to prune once or twice a month, depending on how manicured the owner wants their shrub to be. Water on a regular basis but make sure that the plant gets time to dry out between watering. Remember to fertilize three times a year (spring, summer, and fall) with the help of a good quality granular fertilizer.
Some popular varieties of Japanese boxwoods are as follows:
Green Beauty Boxwood
This is an excellent choice for small hedges. The best trait about green beauty boxwood is that it maintains its dark green foliage throughout the hot months of summer. As compared to other boxwoods, green beauty boxwoods are more humidity and drought tolerant.
This evergreen hedge requires partial to full sun for healthy growth. It has a moderate growth rate, ultimately growing up to 4 to 6 feet tall and wide. Green beauty possesses several landscape uses; for example, the shrub is apt for accentuating entry areas and foundation beds. The dark green gem can also be cultivated like a beautiful fence or border. Its dense foliage serves as a shelter for birds and small animals.
Morris Midget Boxwood
This is compact dwarf boxwood which encompasses super thick evergreen foliage. Whether one wants to create a low hedge or an edge for pathways and gardens, this is the ideal boxwood variety to go for. Like green beauty boxwood, dwarf hedge plant also needs partial to full sun and regular watering for its full growth.
Morris midget has a slow growth rate, having an ability to grow up to 12 inches tall to 18 inches wide. Some of the companion plants to pick are spirea, maiden grass, coneflower, lilac, and gayfeather.
Morris Dwarf Boxwood
Morris dwarf is a slow growing plant which can rise up to 1 to 2 feet in height and spread 1 to 2 inch in width. This slow-growing plant requires little to no maintenance; since it is a small yellowish green shrub, Morris dwarf doesn’t require frequent watering. However, the plant needs partial to full sun and moist, well-drained soil.
Keep in mind that this small-sized plant has a hardiness zone from 5 to 8 and is susceptible to no insects at all.
Botanically named Buxus Sinica Insularis, Korean boxwoods are a broadleaf evergreen plant which grows upright for about 2 feet tall. As they mature, the shrub tends to become wider in shape rather than taller and produce an open-branch structure. Like many other boxwoods, they are a highly dense plant, covered with evergreen leaves.
Korean boxwoods are visually striking as in summers as the leaves exhibit rich dark green color. During winters, the leaves tend to become more bronze in shade. In spring, the shrub starts to produce scented, cream-toned blossoms that are pollinated by bees. These flowers convert into seed capsules by the time fall arrives.
Korean boxwood is a cold, hardy shrub that can easily survive severe winters down to USDA hardiness zone 4. It is important to choose a place that gets partial sunlight and have wet, loamy soils. The evergreen foliage may need protection against desiccation – the absence of moisture during winters. Hence it is important to cultivate Korean boxwoods where they can be protected against chilling winter winds. Otherwise, they may suffer from winter burn. This type of boxwood is an ideal hedge plant or a border plant. However, pruning is a task that you will need to undertake to maintain its green foliage. Don’t hesitate from clipping it into shape whenever necessary.
Hybrid boxwoods are divided into several boxwood varieties; some of them are discussed in detail below:
Green Gem Boxwood
Also known as buxus, green gem boxwood is a broad-leafed evergreen plant that tends to bloom in the spring season. The plant grows best in average, medium moisture with well-drained and slightly acidic soil, and partial to full sun shade. The shrub is prized for its round shape and evergreen shrub that grows up to the height of 3 to 4 feet tall and wide. Make sure to avoid cultivating the shrub around other plants and shallow roots as wind circulation may damage the shrub.
USDA Zones 4 and 5 must look for a sheltered location for the growth of this plant so that the plant stays protected against strong winds in the winter season. Also, cover the shrub in winters to avoid the accumulation of snow on stems and branches.
Commonly known as Chicagoland Green Boxwood, glencoe boxwood is an evergreen shrub that maintains its glossy green foliage in the winter season as well. Owing to this reason, the plant is referred to as cold hardy in nature. This type of boxwood resembles English boxwoods as both of them boast the perfect oval low hedge.
The dark green plant requires regular watering, especially in extreme heat conditions. This compact-sized shrub can reach up to 3 to 4 inches tall in both height and width. In this spring season, the beautiful shrub produces white blossoms that attract many birds.
Green Mound Boxwood
The green mound is a low hedge shrub, featuring medium-sized leaves in an oval shape. The commendable trait of this plant is that the foliage maintains its green color throughout the year. Another great feature of this boxwood is that it is prune and shear tolerant.
This variety of boxwood needs full shade to partial sun for growth. It is important to not expose it to full sun as it is likely for the plant foliage to suffer from winter scorch or mite attacks.
Green Velvet Boxwood
This is dense-bodied boxwood well suited for low hedges. Like green mound boxwood, the plant retains its original green color throughout the winter season. The best part is that is easy to care and maintain; there is no need for regular watering or trimming.
Some of the companion plants that will elevate green velvet boxwood are lilac, maiden grass, weigela, and coneflower. A lovely round evergreen that provides accentuates any garden with its lush color, texture, and structure.
In modern construction, any landscape design is incomplete without the addition of pretty boxwood. Having them in the garden, backyard, porch area, front lawn or driveways are the best way to enhance these planned spaces.