Box trees can grow up to 8 meters high in our latitudes and even up to 20 meters in subtropical areas. In central European gardens you tend to find smaller box plants. The boxwood is evergreen, so it provides color in the otherwise mostly gray garden even in winter. They are most popular as topiary, spherical, pyramidal, spiral, but also formed into other artistic shapes. However, boxwood is also often used as a border for beds or as a small hedge, as a property boundary, mostly for front gardens.

Boxwood care

The boxwood is actually quite easy to care for. If it has the ideal location and the best possible plant substrate, these are good prerequisites for good growth. However, boxwood should be trimmed regularly. On the negative side, the plants are threatened by numerous diseases and pests. That’s why you should always check what’s right. Early detection prevents major damage or even failures.


The boxwood comes from warmer regions and therefore needs a warm location. He prefers partial shade, although he can also cope with a lot of sun. But then he prefers vertical sunlight and not the vertical one. That means he prefers morning and evening sun to bright midday sun.

  • Since the box does not like changes, you should not transplant it! This requires a good choice of location.
  • Sunny to semi-shady location!
  • No too shady location!

plant substrate

As with many plants, the right plant substrate is also very important for the boxwood. Some varieties are quite susceptible to diseases. Wrong substrate promotes this, eg fungal diseases.

  • A loose and permeable soil is important!
  • It is favorable if it is rich in humus and slightly calcareous.
  • Too dry or too acidic soil is very unfavorable.


There is not really much to consider when planting. Some care is necessary, but otherwise it’s not difficult.

  • Spring is the best time to plant
  • Water thoroughly before planting!
  • Planting hole about four times the size of the root ball
  • The soil in the planting hole must be deeply loosened and enriched with humus!
  • Plant box about 5 cm deeper than it was in the pot!
  • Water vigorously after planting!
  • Shorten branches to 2/3 straight away!
  • Don’t fertilize until June!
  • Planting distance when planting hedges – 6 to 7 plants per meter

watering and fertilizing

Depending on its size and location, the boxwood needs a lot of water, as it also evaporates a lot due to its numerous leaves. Although it is quite drought tolerant, the substrate should not be allowed to dry out completely. Watering is particularly important for newly planted plants.

  • In case of dryness, water daily if possible!
  • Do not let the plant substrate dry out!
  • Do not water from above, always water the root area if possible!
  • Potted plants do not tolerate drought well.
  • Neither do freshly planted plants.
  • Even in winter, the Buchs evaporates water and therefore needs regular replenishment.
  • Fertilize weekly from mid-April!
  • Recommended fertilizer for boxwood – add special boxwood fertilizer with the irrigation water
  • After August, stop fertilizing for growth to allow shoots to thin out.
  • Only fertilize with patent potash in September so that the plants get through the winter well.

Boxwood cutting

Whether as a hedge or as a topiary, the cut is simply important with boxwood. There are a few things to keep in mind so that the box looks good and stays healthy. Mistakes in the cut can, in turn, lead to diseases because the floodgates are opened to pathogens. The right cutting date is important. A distinction is also made between coarse and fine cuts.

  • Pruning takes place once or twice a year.
  • Do not cut more often, this causes stress and can lead to illness!
  • Pruning takes place between March and September.
  • In the spring, before the new shoots, the rough cut is carried out.
  • The most favorable dates for the fine cut are the times after the spring and summer shoots

Normal pruning, without topiary

  • Between April and September
  • Cut on dry and especially overcast days! Never in the sunshine, this leads to burns!
  • Avoid crushing! A very sharp pair of scissors, preferably boxwood shears!
  • Cut from top to bottom!
  • Always cut away the shoots from last year so that the box is nice and dense. He then branches out better.
  • Also cut out dried or diseased branches!


  • If you want to grow opaque hedges and beautiful, compact topiaries, you have to cut them once or twice a year!
  • It is best to use a template. You can buy them or you build them yourself.
Note: There are now more than 60 Buxus sempervirens varieties. Most of these grow very slowly, so you have to be patient for such a growth to reach an acceptable size.


The boxwood is quite hardy. Although there are occasional failures, this is not so much due to the frost as the trees and shrubs dry up in winter. Especially in sunny weather, the leaves evaporate a lot of water and if the ground is frozen, nothing can follow. This is how damage occurs. The plants weaken and lose their resistance to pathogens. You become vulnerable. The only thing you can do is cover the plants, protect them from the sun. This is not difficult with a topiary, but with entire hedges or bed borders.
Buchs in buckets that overwinter outside should not be forgotten to water. It is best to place the tubs in a somewhat sheltered position, especially from the strong winter sun!


The easiest and safest way is to propagate by cuttings. It is true that box can also be propagated by seeds and propagation, but that takes a long time and is not very easy. Cuttings, on the other hand, succeed much better.

  • Propagation of cuttings in mid and late summer
  • New roots will have formed by spring.

propagation by cuttings

  • You don’t cut the cuttings, you tear them off, which is why they are also called cracklings.
  • The strip of bark is cut away and the upper end shortened by 1/3.
  • Carefully remove the leaves in the lower third!
  • It is best to put it in potting soil!
  • Water well and put a transparent bag over the culture vessel!
  • Don’t forget to ventilate!
  • Water from time to time as needed! Under no circumstances should the floor be too wet, but it shouldn’t dry out either!

Propagation of cuttings outdoors

  • The location should be shady and sheltered from the wind!
  • A loose and humus-rich soil is a prerequisite.
  • Tuck in cuttings and don’t let leaves touch the ground (rot)
  • Cover with fir branches in winter!
  • Don’t forget to water!


The newer breeds of boxwood are usually very healthy and robust. Nevertheless, diseases can occur, especially fungal diseases occur again and again. These occur particularly frequently when the hedges or plantings are too dense for the plants to dry off poorly after they get wet. Plants are also at risk if the soil is too wet. It is important that all affected parts of the plant are removed, even if this affects the shape. That grows again. The cut parts do not belong in the compost, they must be disposed of, either with household waste or incinerated. Always disinfect the cutting tools so that the diseases and pathogens are not spread! If the plants die anyway, the soil must be replaced before replanting.

Shoot dieback – fungal attack by Cylidrocladium buxicola, penetrates through the leaves and can lead to total failure

  • Leaves and young shoots turn dark brown to black where infested
  • Spots spread
  • White spore deposits can be seen on the underside of the leaf
  • The fungus can affect entire crops
  • Affected parts dry up, often the entire plant
  • The only thing that helps here is a hard pruning back into the healthy wood
  • Dispose of all cut off parts!
  • The fungal spores are contagious for years!!!

Boxwood canker – the pathogen is Volutelle buxi, mostly affecting individual plants

  • Yellow to dark spots
  • The affected leaf dries up and falls off
  • Pink spore beds appear on the underside of the leaf
  • Cracks in the bark can occur
  • All affected shoots and leaves must be cut out!
  • Discard everything!

Box wilt – the pathogen is Fusarium buxicola – mainly affects weakened plants

  • Browning and leathery drying of leaves and individual shoots
  • Often dot-like, dark brown spore beds
  • Here, too, only a consistent pruning helps, and deep!

Box rust – affects older and weakened plants

  • Shown by brownish, convex bumps on the upper side of the leaves and white spots on the underside
  • Spores about 2 mm in size, the rust pustules, appear on both sides
  • Remove affected shoots and use antifungal agents!
Tip: Watering in the morning prevents fungal infestation, as the leaves dry much faster during the day than at night. Copper sulphate also helps preventively.

Pests on boxwood

In addition to the numerous fungal diseases, there are also pests, above all the box tree moth. Its caterpillars ensure that the plants are cleared, they eat all the leaves. Timely detection is also important here so that countermeasures can be initiated immediately.

Box tree moth – butterfly that was introduced from Asia

  • Recognizable by feeding spots on the leaves, partly bare
  • Webs inside the plant
  • The caterpillars are patterned green and black
  • There are several methods of controlling the pest
  • Collect the caterpillars and pupae, remove webs and cut back vigorously in spring
  • Rock flour pollination and, if necessary, insecticides
  • “XenTAri” (biological) is effective and environmentally friendly

There are also the boxwood flea , spider mites , gall midges and comma scale insects . The scale insects can be tackled with preparations containing oil. A vigorous pruning helps against all other pests, preferably in spring. Insecticides can also be used, but always as a last resort.


  • The “Blue Heinz” is particularly critical because it is extremely susceptible to fungus.
  • For edging, choose the best slow-growing varieties, e.g. ‘Suffruticosa’
  • Use fast-growing varieties for hedges, such as ‘Rotundifolia’ or ‘Handsworthiensis’ or the wild species Buxus sempervirens.
  • It is the same with topiary.

The box tree in some form can be found in almost every garden. This is probably because it can be shaped so beautifully and also because it is evergreen. The care is easy and also the cut, if you do it regularly. Only the diseases and pests sometimes spoil the joy of the plants. However, healthy plants are quite well protected against disease. Pests must be combated as early as possible, then they cannot spread and cause major damage. All in all, the boxwood is a frugal and not too high-maintenance plant that fits into many gardens.

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