Boxwood replacement: 20 easy-care alternatives

The box tree (Buxus) has been plagued by life-threatening pests and diseases for years. To avoid this, there are plant alternatives that are just as easy to care for. These plants are suitable as a boxwood substitute.

Easy-care boxwood replacement from B to F

Boxleaf barberry “Nana” (Berberis buxifolia)

  • Growth: dense, thorny, bushy
  • Growth height: up to 75 centimeters
  • flower: simple; yellow-orange; from May to June
  • Location: sun to semi-shade
  • Special features: undemanding; strong resemblance to boxwood; evergreen and hardy; There are other varieties up to 250 centimeters high

However Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

  • Growth: low; cushiony
  • Growth height: up to 50 centimeters
  • flower: inconspicuous; spike-like; depending on the variety, blue, violet, white; depending on the variety from June/July to October
  • Location: sun
  • Special features: fragrant flowers; bee and butterfly friendly; very frost hardy ; ideal alternative to boxwood bed edging

Eibe (Taxus baccata)

  • growth: bushy; upright; densely branched; multi-stemmed
  • Height of growth: uncut between 200 and 1000 centimeters
  • flower: green-yellow; cone-shaped; from March to April
  • Location: sunny to shady
  • Special features: gets very old; robust; evergreen; tolerates pruning well; hardy; replacement for shaped boxwood and hedge plantings; Suitable for buckets and as a privacy screen

Fingerstrauch „Kobold“ (Potentilla fruticosa)

  • growth: bushy; plump; compact
  • Growth height: between 50 and 60 centimeters
  • flower: golden yellow; plate-shaped; from May to October
  • Location: sun to semi-shade
  • Special features: boxwood alternative only from spring to autumn, as it is deciduous; ideal for hedge planting; low need for care; robust; hardy

Spring osmanthus (Osmanthus x burkwoodii)

  • growth: wide; bushy
  • Growth height: up to 300 centimeters
  • flower: white; from April to May
  • Location: sunny to shady
  • Special features: can be cut back to less than 50 centimeters; moderately hardy; little maintenance effort; butterfly and insect friendly; very insensitive to wind

From G to H

Yellow cypress “Ivonne” (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana)

  • growth: dense; upright; wedge shaped
  • Height of growth: uncut up to 700 centimeters
  • flower: inconspicuous; reddish brown; from March to April
  • Location: sun
  • Special features: golden yellow to pure yellow foliage; very hardy; can be cut and shaped like boxwood; hardy to over minus 35 degrees Celsius

Common holly (Ilex aquifolium)

  • growth: broad; pyramidal
  • Growth height: between 200 and 800 centimeters
  • flower: white; from May to June
  • Location: partial shade to shade
  • Special features: prickly leaves; evergreen, decorative berries in autumn; ideal for hedge planting; very easy to care for and tolerates pruning
Tip: If you want to plant it lower, you will find this in the ‘Heckenzwerg’ holly variety. It only grows up to a height of 50 centimeters and thus offers a suitable boxwood replacement for bed borders or path demarcations, for example.

Gold-Thymian (Thymus x citriodorus „Aureus“)

  • Growth: semi-shrub; compact; plump; pillowy
  • Growth height: up to 20 centimeters
  • flower: simple; paniculate; light pink; from June to August
  • Location: sunny
  • Special features: evergreen; yellow-green foliage color; conditionally hardy; can be easily cut into shape; Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is a hardy variety

Hedgehog (Lonicera nitida)

  • growth: shrubby; upright; dense; heavily branched
  • Growth height: between 80 and 150 centimeters
  • flower: inconspicuous; white, creamy white; from May to June
  • Location: sunny to semi-shady
  • Special features: Varieties “Maigrün” and “Elegant” ideal boxwood replacement for small hedges and edgings; subtle floral scent; poisonous fruit decoration

Hinoki cypress “Aurora” (Chamaecyparis obtusa)

  • Growth: bushy, compact, dwarf
  • Growth height: between 70 and 100 centimeters
  • Flower: none
  • Location: sun to semi-shade
  • Special features: evergreen; yellow needle color; easy to care for and tolerates pruning like boxwood; ideal alternative to the boxwood hedge

From J to R

Japanese holly (Ilex crenata)

  • Growth: densely branched, wide; sweeping
  • Growth height: uncut between 200 and 350 centimeters
  • flower: inconspicuous; White; from May to June
  • Location: sun to shade
  • Special features: evergreen; immensely hardy; undemanding in care and soil conditions
Tip: A very popular and easy-care Ilex variety is the Spoon Ilex ‘Dark Green’, which bears a strong resemblance to the boxwood. It can be grown to a height of about 80 centimeters and grows upright and bushy with matt white flowers between May and June.

Small-leaved carpet spindle “Minimus” (Euonymus fortunei)

  • Growth: low; cushiony; small-leaved
  • Growth height: up to 25 centimeters
  • flower: inconspicuous; cyme-shaped; yellow-green; from June to July
  • Location: sun to shade
  • Special features: good compatibility with cuts; thrives in almost any soil; red-brown autumn color; evergreen; ideal alternative to low boxwood hedges

Purpur-Weide (Salix purpurea)

  • growth: shrubby; spherical; upright; bushy
  • Growth height: between 200 and 300 centimeters
  • flower: kitten shape; yellow Red; from March to April
  • Location: sunny to semi-shady
  • Special features: growth width up to 450 centimeters; blue-green leaf color; red bark; Insensitive to cold and heat; popular boxwood substitute as a hedge plant

Rhododendron „Bloombux“ (Rhododendron)

  • Growth: compact
  • Growth height: up to 100 centimeters
  • flower: simple; pink, pink, magenta; early to late June
  • Location: sun to semi-shade
  • Special features: grafted dwarf rhododendron shrub; dense alternative for topiary box trees; hardy to minus 20 degrees Celsius; also ideal for use as a low hedge; easy-care

Rotlaubige Glanzmispel (Photinia x fraseri)

  • Growth: small shrubs; upright; bushy
  • Growth height: between 150 and 300 centimeters
  • flower: white; from May to June
  • Location: sun
  • Special features: hardier variety: “Robusta”; other varieties conditionally hardy; very popular variety: “Red Robin”; can be cut and cared for like boxwood

From S to Z

Shrub-ivy “Arborescens” (Hedera helix)

  • Growth: upright; compact; dense; shrubby
  • Growth height: up to 200 centimeters
  • flower: umbel-shaped; yellow-green; from September to October
  • Location: partial shade to shade
  • Special features: slightly toxic; bee friendly; hardy; evergreen; Cut back to any height due to high cut compatibility and suitable for shape cuts
Tip: You can also plant climbing ivy as a boxwood alternative. Just let them grow up on a trellis.

Thuja (Thuja occidentalis)

  • growth: conical; narrow; upright; relaxed
  • Height of growth: uncut up to 200 centimeters
  • flower: inconspicuous; cone-like; Red; from March to May
  • Location: sunny to semi-shady
  • Special features: ideal wind and privacy protection; enormous growth width up to 300 centimeters; yellow fruits; Caution: highly toxic

Wintergrüne Ölweide (Elaeagnus ebbingei)

  • Growth: tightly upright; broadly bushy with age
  • Growth height: 200 to 300 centimeters
  • flower: white; from October to November
  • Location: sun to semi-shade
  • Special features: light floral scent; frost-resistant only in old age; crimson berries in fall; low maintenance requirements

Dwarf privet “Lodense” (Ligustrum vulgare)

  • Growth: low; dense; upright
  • Growth height: between 70 and 100 centimeters
  • flower: simple; paniculate; White; from June to July
  • Location: sun to shade
  • Special features: evergreen; bronze foliage in summer; easy-care; undemanding; optimal boxwood substitute for small hedges and bed edgings

Dwarf laurel cherry “Piri” (Prunus laurocerasus)

  • growth: compact; slightly round; wider than high
  • Growth height: 80 to 100 centimeters
  • flowers: simple; grape-like; White; from May to June
  • Location: sun to shade
  • Special features: very robust and resistant; evergreen; low need for care; good Buxus alternative for small hedges and tubs

frequently asked Questions

Box trees have been infested extremely frequently by box tree moths (Cydalima perspectalis) for several years. They eat them bare and combating them is costly and often unsuccessful. In addition, the leaf fall disease (Cylindrocladium buxicola) is widespread among box trees, which also requires lengthy control measures. Apart from that, all parts of the boxwood plant are poisonous, which is why families with children in particular should prefer alternatives.

Significantly more robust. No plant is completely safe from diseases and pest infestations, but all the alternatives mentioned are noticeably more resilient. In addition, typical pests such as aphids and leaf miners can be controlled more reliably than the dreaded box tree moth.

In order for the alternatives mentioned above to be called substitutes, they have to show essential properties of the boxwood. In addition to being easy to care for, these are above all dense growth, excellent tolerance to cutting, evergreen foliage and frost resistance. If you want to make topiary cuts like you would with boxwood, you will also find suitable specimens among the alternatives mentioned, such as the “Ivonne” cypress.

Kira Bellingham

I'm a homes writer and editor with more than 20 years' experience in publishing. I have worked across many titles, including Ideal Home and, of course, Homes & Gardens. My day job is as Chief Group Sub Editor across the homes and interiors titles in the group. This has given me broad experience in interiors advice on just about every subject. I'm obsessed with interiors and delighted to be part of the Homes & Gardens team.

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