A Guide To Growing Boxwood Shrubs

Even if you have never heard of them, you have very likely seen them in landscapes throughout Northern Colorado and the Front Range. Boxwood shrubs are highly popular for their low-maintenance, easy-care, drought-tolerant nature. Many varieties are also deer-resistant, making them perfect for our arid, mountainous environments. Along with their many other attributes, Boxwood shrubs also provide visual interest throughout the entire year! They are highly popular for these reasons, and they more often than not are the perfect plants for yards and landscapes everywhere!


What Is a Boxwood Shrub?

Boxwood plants are evergreen shrubs that grow dense, bright, shiny green foliage. They look like many other deciduous plants, but the marvel of Boxwood shrubs is they retain their foliage throughout the entire year. Depending on the variety of Boxwood shrub, the foliage may remain green throughout the winter, which is quite a spectacle when all other growing things look dead and bare. Originally introduced to Northern America somewhere in the mid-1600s, these plants have made for themselves quite the reputation for being hardy and nearly trouble-free plants. However, there has been an increase in cases of Boxwood blight, which is a fungal disease that can be difficult to remedy. To avoid this ailment with your plants, be sure to shop at reputable nurseries where precautions will be taken to keep plants healthy and free of fungus or disease.


Types of Boxwood Shrubs

There are hundreds of varieties of Boxwood shrubs, however, we are going to focus on a handful of some of the most commonly sought-after varieties that we carry here at our Garden Center and Nursery. Here are six types of boxwood shrubs that are perfect for Colorado planting!


1. Chicagoland Green Boxwood (Buxus x 'Glencoe')

Chicagoland Green Boxwood

This variety of Boxwood shrub has excellent cold hardiness, being able to survive temperatures of -32 degrees with no dieback. It has a fine texture that tolerates pruning and shearing well, allowing it to take on many shapes. It is often used as a small hedge and for topiary (the art of pruning shrubs into ornamental shapes). These plants prefer well-draining soil and will grow best in full to partial sun.

  • Plant Type: Evergreen shrub

  • Hardiness Zone: 5-8

  • Light Requirements: Partial to full sun

  • Height: 3-4 feet

  • Width: 4-5 feet

  • Foliage Color: Green

  • Attributes: Deer resistant, drought tolerant, easy-care, winter interest


2. Green Mountain Boxwood (Buxus x 'Green Mountain')

Green Mountain Boxwood

This variety is a relatively fast-growing variety that is naturally cone-shaped if left unsheared. Due to its dense and upright growth, this evergreen shrub makes for an excellent hedge. It prefers well-draining soil, is tolerant of drought, and will grow best in full sun to part shade.

  • Plant Type: Evergreen shrub

  • Hardiness Zone: 5-8

  • Light Requirements: Full sun

  • Height: 4-5 feet

  • Width: 3-4 feet

  • Foliage Color: Green

  • Attributes: Deer resistant, drought tolerant, easy-care, winter interest


3. Velvet Boxwood (Buxus 'Green Velvet')

Velvet Boxwood

A full-bodied Boxwood variety, the Green Velvet Boxwood is well-suited for dense, low hedges. Its foliage retains a rich green color throughout the winter months, providing excellent winter interest. It is a vigorous grower with a naturally rounded form if not sheared.

  • Plant Type: Evergreen shrub

  • Hardiness Zone: 5-9

  • Light Requirements: Partial to full sun

  • Height: 3-4 feet

  • Width: 3-4 feet

  • Foliage Color: Green

  • Attributes: Attracts birds, deer-resistant, winter interest


4. North Star Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens)

North Star Boxwood

This new variety of boxwood is a cold hardy, dense globe that requires little if any pruning to form a low, thick hedge. It features shiny dark green leaves that maintain good winter color. It is perfect for use as a low-growing hedge or as a border plant. It's a beautiful evergreen that will provide four seasons of enjoyment in the landscape.

  • Plant Type: Evergreen shrub

  • Hardiness Zone: 5-9

  • Light Requirements: Partial sun, shade, sun

  • Height: 2-2.5 feet

  • Width: 2-2.5 feet

  • Foliage Color: Green

  • Bloom Color: Green

  • Attributes: Deer resistant, easy-care, winter interest, pet friendly


5. Skywalker Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens 'Skywalker')

Skywalker Boxwood

The Skywalker Boxwood is the fastest-growing Boxwood. It has a columnar growth habit and can grow up to 30 inches in a growing season until it reaches approximately 20 feet tall and 6.5 feet wide. They need to be planted in well-draining, fertile soil. This variety can tolerate a wide variety of sun exposures from full sun to shade. They are low maintenance, not prone to root disease, and are the perfect boxwood for all sorts of landscaping uses!

  • Plant Type: Evergreen shrub

  • Hardiness Zone: 5-9

  • Light Requirements: Partial sun, shade, sun

  • Height: 20 feet

  • Width: 6.5 feet

  • Foliage Color: Green

  • Attributes: Hedge, fast-growing, low maintenance


6. Winter Gem Boxwood (Buxus microphylla japonica 'Winter Gem')

Winter Gem Boxwood

This variety of Boxwood shrub is an excellent evergreen option for small hedges. It is among the hardiest of Boxwoods with rich green foliage that acquires a golden-bronze hue through the winter season, returning to bright green in the spring.

  • Plant Type: Evergreen shrub

  • Hardiness Zone: 5-9

  • Light Requirements: Partial to full sun

  • Height: 4-6 feet

  • Width: 4-6 feet

  • Foliage Color: Green

  • Attributes: Attracts birds, deer-resistant, winter interest


How To Plant Boxwood Shrubs

As with any plant, proper planting is the first and arguably the most important step towards making sure your plants live long and healthy lives. Planting your new Boxwood shrub is not as simple as digging a hole to stick the plant. Make sure to follow the steps below to make sure your Boxwood shrub is set up for success!


1. Prepare Your Plant

When you purchased your Boxwood shrub, it likely came either with the root ball wrapped in burlap or in a plastic nursery pot or container. Balled and burlapped trees are easy. Simply cut the burlap fabric off of the plant. If it came in a plastic container, lay the plant on its side and gently work the container off the plant. You can do this by gently squeezing, twisting, or pulling on the container. Sometimes these containers come off easily, while other times it may take a bit more coercion. If you are having trouble, you can always take a pair of sharp pruners and carefully cut the plastic pot down either side. Once you have gotten your plant out of its container, make sure it is not root-bound. You will know it is root bound if there are roots coming out the bottom of the container or if the roots appear as pictured below when you remove the container. Carefully loosen the roots as much as possible, being careful not to break too many of the larger roots (if smaller roots break that is fine).

Prepare Your Plant

2. Dig a Hole

Once you have found the perfect place to plant your Boxwood shrub, dig a hole that is just slightly deeper and two to three times wider than the root ball. This might seem like a lot of extra space, but trust us, you will need this extra space around the base of your plant for the next step!


3. Prepare the Soil

First off, you can always soak the area where you are going to plant your shrub a day or two in advance to make sure that the plant will have good access to water as soon as it is planted. If you did not do this, go ahead and soak the hole you just dug. Amending your soil will also be so important, especially since the soil here in Colorado is generally dense and very clay-heavy. We recommend obtaining some quality topsoil and mixing 1/3 compost with 2/3 soil. You can also add manure, peat moss, or other soil amendments to provide your plant with even more nutrients. At Bath, we offer a 5-Year Extended Warranty if any new trees or shrubs are purchased and planted with MYKE Tree & Shrub. This product will help stimulate root growth and all but guarantees the healthy growth of your plant! When you have come up with whatever mixture of soil and amendments you have chosen, spread a thin layer at the base of the hole.


4. Position the Plant

Now it is time to place your plant in the hole you have prepared for it! Be careful to support the plant from the bottom when moving it. It is NOT recommended to lift from the trunk or branches as this could cause damage. Position the plant upright in the hole and take a step back and view the plant from all angles to make sure it is sitting straight and is positioned the way you want it.


5. Pack Soil Around the Plant

Once you have your Boxwood shrub positioned perfectly, start packing more of your topsoil-compost-soil amendment mixture in around the base of the plant. It is recommended to fill in the empty space evenly, not filling in one side entirely and then filling in the other side entirely, as this can cause your plant to become off-center. Gently (but firmly) tamp the planting medium in around the base of your shrub until the soil is level and the root ball is sufficiently buried. Discard any old soil that was not used to fill back in the hole or use it elsewhere in your landscaping.


6. Water Thoroughly

Water your newly planted shrub thoroughly. Some of the soil around the base of your plant may settle in after watering and more soil may need to be added. You will want to water your new planting(s) thoroughly and often, especially throughout the first year. Watering slowly for extended periods of time will allow the water to soak deep into the soil and will encourage deep root growth. Conversely, if you allow water to gush over your plant for only a short amount of time, the water will just pool and spread out. This will encourage shallow root growth which is not good for the longevity of your plant. It usually takes around a year for a new plant to establish itself. During this first year, you will want to water it at least once per week and sometimes more often (2-3 times per week) in the heat of the summer. Once your plant is established, it will be drought tolerant and able to withstand more infrequent waterings.


Boxwood Shrubs Growing Tips

Boxwood Shrubs Growing Tips

Pick the Right Location

Keep in mind that picking the right location to plant your Boxwood shrub will be imperative for its success. While some Boxwood shrubs can tolerate shade, most will need around 5-6 hours of sunlight per day. Also, keep in mind that not receiving an even distribution of light can cause one side of the plant to fade or become discolored. Certain varieties can be more susceptible to this than others, so make sure you pick the right spot for your shrub...or the right shrub for your spot!


Pick the Right Variety

Make sure to do your research to find the variety that will be the best fit for your space. Whether you are looking for a tall hedge, a short and compact border, or certain growth that will require minimal pruning, the plant you choose will perform best if it is well suited to the space and desired function. If finding the right Boxwood variety is something you need some help with, feel free to use our Plant Finder or reach out to us and we can connect you with one of our Nursery Specialists who will be able to give you suggestions and advice based on your wants and needs!


Maintain the Right Expectations

Keep in mind that any new plant that has been added to your landscaping may require a little more love and attention right off the bat and will perform better in subsequent years if it is cared for properly, especially in its first year of growth after planting. So, while watering 1-3 times per week may seem excessive, it will be better for the longevity of your plant. Similarly, it will take a couple of years for your new shrub to reach its mature size. So, plan accordingly and with a little bit of patience, you will have beautiful, thriving plants before you know it!


Plant in the Right Season

Picking the right season for planting can also have a big impact on the health and success of your plant. Planting in the spring is best. Our Nursery has the best selection of Boxwood shrubs early in the growing season, giving you more options to choose from. Planting in the spring also ensures that your new plant will have six months or more to acclimate to its new home and begin establishing itself. Spring is ideal as it gives the new plant some time to acclimate before the heat of the summer sets in, which can cause undue stress to a plant that has just been put into the ground. You can also plant your new shrub in the fall as soon as the heat of the summer begins to subside. You may just have to give it some special attention and be sure it receives enough water throughout the winter season.

Plant in the Right Season

Boxwood Shrub Questions

Do you have more questions regarding Boxwood shrubs? Please do not hesitate to reach out! We are always happy to help and want to enable you to achieve the most success possible with all of your planting endeavors. If you got to the end of this and were feeling a little overwhelmed with the planting process, we can help! We provide delivery and planting services so all you have to worry about is picking out your plants. We will load them in our vans, drive them to your house, and plant them for you. Find more information about our delivery and planting services and schedule your service today!




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