How To Plant Boxwood [ Full Guide ]

Boxwood is a popular choice for adding structure and greenery to landscapes. Its dense foliage, evergreen nature, and ability to be pruned into various shapes make it a versatile and appealing plant for gardens. If you’re looking to add boxwood to your garden, it’s important to understand the proper planting process to ensure its successful establishment and growth. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps of planting boxwood, from choosing the right variety to preparing the planting site and caring for the soil.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Boxwood

Before delving into the detailed steps, here’s a quick overview of how to plant boxwood:

  1. Choosing the Right Variety: Decide on the boxwood variety that suits your needs, considering its growth habits, size, and location in your garden.
  2. Preparing the Planting Site: Ensure that the planting site has the right amount of sunlight, well-draining soil, and adequate space for the boxwood to thrive.
  3. Soil Requirements for Boxwood: Understand the soil requirements of boxwood and prepare the soil accordingly to provide the best growing conditions for the plant.
  4. Planting Boxwood: Dig a properly sized hole, remove the plant from its container, amend the soil as needed, place the boxwood in the hole, and backfill it with soil.
  5. Watering and Mulching: Water the newly planted boxwood thoroughly and apply a layer of mulch to retain moisture and suppress weed growth.
  6. Caring for Boxwood: After planting, provide regular watering, proper pruning, and necessary fertilization to ensure the healthy growth of your boxwood plants.

Now let’s explore these steps in more detail, starting with choosing the right boxwood variety.

Choosing The Right Variety

Before you start planting boxwood, it’s important to select the right variety that best fits your landscape and suits your specific needs. Boxwoods come in a variety of sizes, growth habits, and leaf shapes, so consider the following factors when choosing a boxwood variety:

Size And Growth Habit

Compact Varieties: If you have limited space or are looking for a hedge or border plant, compact boxwood varieties such as “Green Velvet”, “Sprinter”, or ‘Faulkner’ are excellent choices. They typically have a rounded, mounding growth habit and are well-suited for small to medium-sized gardens.

Tall Varieties: For larger landscapes or to create a taller hedge or backdrop, consider taller boxwood varieties like ‘Green Mountain’ or “Green Tower”. These varieties have a more upright growth habit, making them suitable for creating vertical accents in your garden.

Leaf Shape And Color

Traditional Boxwoods: Classic boxwood varieties such as Buxus sempervirens have small, oval-shaped, dark green leaves that are iconic for formal gardens and topiary designs.

Variegated Varieties: If you want to add visual interest and variety to your garden, consider variegated boxwood varieties like ‘Variegata’ or “Golden Dream”. These varieties have foliage with a mix of green and creamy white or gold-colored leaves.

Location And Climate

Consider the climate and conditions in your specific region when choosing a boxwood variety. Some boxwoods are more cold-hardy, while others are better suited for warmer climates. Research the hardiness zones and climate preferences of the different boxwood varieties to ensure they will thrive in your area.

Once you’ve selected the right boxwood variety for your garden, the next step is to prepare the planting site.

Preparing The Planting Site

Proper site preparation is essential for the successful growth and establishment of boxwood plants. Consider the following factors when preparing the planting site for your boxwoods:

Sunlight Requirements

Boxwoods thrive in partial shade to full sun, making them adaptable to various light conditions. However, it’s important to ensure that the planting site receives adequate sunlight for healthy growth. Avoid planting boxwood in dense shade, as it can lead to poor growth and increased susceptibility to pests and diseases.

Soil Drainage

Good soil drainage is crucial for the health of boxwood plants. They prefer well-draining soil and are susceptible to root rot if planted in poorly drained or waterlogged soil. If your soil has poor drainage, consider amending it with organic matter such as compost to improve its structure and drainage capabilities.


When planting boxwood, consider the mature size of the variety you’ve chosen and provide adequate spacing between plants to allow for proper air circulation and future growth. As a general guideline, space small to medium-sized boxwoods 2 to 3 feet apart, and larger varieties 4 to 6 feet apart, depending on their mature size.

Planting Season

The best time to plant boxwood is in the early spring or early fall when the weather is mild and conducive to plant establishment. Avoid planting during the extreme heat of summer or the freezing temperatures of winter, as these conditions can stress the plants and hinder their growth.

With the planting site prepared, the next step is to ensure that the soil meets the specific requirements for growing healthy boxwood.

Soil Requirements For Boxwood

Boxwood thrives in well-drained, slightly acidic to neutral soil. Here are the soil requirements to consider when planting boxwood:

Soil Ph

The ideal soil pH for boxwood ranges from 6.5 to 7.0. Test your soil to determine its pH and make adjustments if necessary to bring it within the optimal range. Adding lime can raise the pH of acidic soil, while sulfur can lower the pH of alkaline soil.

Soil Texture

Boxwoods prefer soil with a loamy texture that provides good drainage while retaining sufficient moisture. Sandy or clay soils can be amended with organic matter such as compost or peat moss to improve their texture and structure. This will help create a favorable growing environment for boxwood roots.

Nutrient Content

Ensure that the soil provides essential nutrients for healthy boxwood growth. Conduct a soil test to analyze the nutrient levels and make amendments based on the results. Adding a balanced fertilizer or organic matter can help provide the necessary nutrients for the boxwood plants.

With the soil prepared and meeting the specific requirements, it’s time to proceed with planting the boxwood.

Planting Boxwood

The planting process for boxwood involves several key steps to ensure the successful establishment of the plants. Follow these guidelines to plant boxwood effectively:

Step 1: Digging The Hole

Start by digging a hole that is slightly wider but no deeper than the root ball of the boxwood plant. The width of the hole should be at least twice the diameter of the root ball to allow for proper root expansion and growth.

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Step 2: Removing The Plant From Its Container

Carefully remove the boxwood from its container, gently loosening any roots that are circling the root ball. Inspect the roots for any signs of damage or disease, and trim off any damaged or overly long roots as needed.

Step 3: Amending The Soil

If the soil in the planting hole is of poor quality or doesn’t meet the required specifications, consider mixing in organic matter such as compost to improve its structure and fertility. This will provide a favorable growing medium for the boxwood roots.

Step 4: Placing The Boxwood In The Hole

Position the boxwood in the center of the planting hole, ensuring that it sits at the same level or slightly above the surrounding soil. Adjust the soil underneath the root ball if necessary to achieve the proper planting depth.

Step 5: Backfilling The Hole

Backfill the hole with the amended soil, gently tamping it down as you fill to remove air pockets and ensure good soil-to-root contact. Avoid compacting the soil too firmly, as this can impede root growth and water penetration.

Step 6: Watering And Mulching

After planting, water the boxwood thoroughly to settle the soil and provide hydration to the newly transplanted roots. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as shredded bark or wood chips, around the base of the plant to help retain moisture, suppress weed growth, and maintain a more consistent soil temperature.

Following these planting steps will help establish the boxwood in its new environment and promote healthy growth. However, proper care and maintenance are essential for the long-term health and vigor of the plants.

Watering And Mulching

After planting, it’s important to provide regular watering to newly planted boxwood to ensure their establishment and survival. Here are some watering and mulching tips to follow:

Watering Frequency

Water newly planted boxwoods deeply immediately after planting to ensure the soil is thoroughly moistened. In the absence of rainfall, continue to provide supplemental water as needed, especially during dry spells or hot weather. Once established, boxwoods generally require about 1 inch of water per week, either from rainfall or irrigation.

Mulching Benefits

Mulching around the base of the boxwood offers several benefits, including moisture retention, weed suppression, and insulation from extreme temperatures. Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch around the plant, keeping it several inches away from the trunk to prevent rot and pest issues.

Mulch Material

Select a natural mulch material such as shredded bark, wood chips, or compost. Avoid using rubber or inorganic mulches, as they do not contribute to soil health and can hinder water and air exchange in the soil.

Maintaining proper moisture levels and protecting the root zone through mulching will help the boxwood plants establish and thrive in their new environment. However, ongoing care for the soil and regular maintenance are also important components of boxwood planting and cultivation.

Caring For Boxwood

Once the boxwood plants are in the ground, it’s essential to provide ongoing care to ensure their continued health and vigor. Follow these tips for caring for your boxwood plants:

Regular Watering

While boxwoods are relatively drought-tolerant once established, consistent watering is important, especially during dry periods. Monitor soil moisture and provide supplemental water as needed to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged.


Apply a balanced fertilizer formulated for shrubs and trees in the early spring to provide essential nutrients for healthy growth. Follow the application rates and guidelines on the fertilizer label, and avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to excessive foliage growth at the expense of root development.

Pruning And Maintenance

Boxwoods respond well to regular pruning to maintain their shape, promote dense growth, and remove any dead or diseased foliage. Pruning can be done in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Use sharp, clean pruning tools to make precise cuts, and shape the boxwood as desired to maintain its aesthetic appeal.

Pest And Disease Management

Monitor boxwoods for common pest issues such as boxwood leafminer, mites, and fungal diseases. Keep the plants healthy through proper watering, air circulation, and soil maintenance to reduce susceptibility to pest and disease problems.

Winter Protection

In regions with harsh winters, consider providing winter protection for boxwood plants by applying an anti-desiccant spray or protecting them with burlap to minimize winter damage from drying winds and extreme temperature fluctuations.

By providing regular care and attention to your boxwood plants, you can help them thrive and contribute to the overall beauty of your garden for years to come.

Planting boxwood can be a rewarding addition to your garden, offering year-round greenery, structure, and versatility. By choosing the right variety, preparing the planting site, meeting the soil requirements, and following proper planting and care techniques, you can establish healthy and vibrant boxwood plants in your landscape. With the right attention and maintenance, your boxwoods will provide beauty and enjoyment for many years to come.

Proper Spacing For Planting

Boxwood (Buxus spp.) is a popular shrub used in landscaping and gardening for its appealing evergreen foliage and versatile nature. It is known for its dense growth habit and can be shaped into various forms, making it an excellent choice for hedges, topiaries, and ornamental borders.

To ensure the healthy growth and long-term success of boxwood, proper planting techniques and care are essential.

Before planting boxwood, it is crucial to consider the appropriate spacing between each plant. Proper spacing allows for optimum growth and airflow, preventing issues such as overcrowding and disease.

When determining spacing for boxwood, consider the variety you are planting and the eventual size it will reach. As a general rule of thumb, most boxwood varieties should be spaced 2 to 5 feet apart, depending on their growth habit.

For boxwood hedges or borders, a smaller spacing of 1 to 2 feet is advisable to achieve a dense and uniform appearance. Keep in mind that an improper spacing can lead to limited airflow and potential disease or pest issues.

Digging The Planting Hole

Once you have determined the appropriate spacing, it’s time to dig the planting hole for your boxwood shrub. Follow these steps to ensure the hole is of the correct size and shape:

  1. First, mark the location where you want to plant the boxwood. Use a stake or marker to clearly define the center point of the hole.

  2. Measure the width and depth of the nursery container in which the boxwood plant is currently growing. For optimal growth and establishment, the planting hole should be slightly larger than the root ball of the plant.

  3. Using a shovel, start digging a hole that is twice as wide and slightly deeper than the root ball of the boxwood plant. This extra space allows the roots to spread and establish themselves in the new soil.

  4. As you dig, loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole with a garden fork or tiller. This will improve drainage and encourage healthy root growth.

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Proper Planting Techniques

Proper planting techniques are crucial for the successful establishment of boxwood plants. Follow these steps to ensure your boxwood has the best start:

  1. Before placing the boxwood plant in the hole, remove it carefully from its nursery container. Gently tap the sides of the container or squeeze it to loosen the root ball and make it easier to remove.

  2. Carefully inspect the root ball for any circling or girdling roots. These roots can hinder the plant’s growth if left unaddressed. If you find any circling roots, gently loosen them by combing your fingers through the root ball or making vertical cuts with a sharp knife.

  3. Place the boxwood plant in the center of the prepared hole, ensuring that the top of the root ball is level with or slightly above the soil surface. Adjust the depth of the hole if necessary.

  4. Backfill the hole with the soil you removed earlier, gently firming it around the root ball. Avoid compacting the soil too tightly, as this can restrict root growth and drainage.

  5. After backfilling, water the newly planted boxwood thoroughly. This helps settle the soil and ensures good soil-to-root contact.

  6. Finally, apply a 2 to 3-inch layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant, leaving a small gap around the stem to prevent moisture buildup and potential rotting.

Watering Boxwood Plants

Proper watering is essential for the establishment and growth of boxwood plants. It is important to provide adequate moisture without overwatering, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot and other issues.

Here are some tips for watering boxwood:

  1. Immediately after planting, water the boxwood deeply to ensure that the entire root ball is thoroughly moistened. This helps settle the soil and encourages root establishment.

  2. After the initial watering, continue to water the boxwood once or twice a week during the growing season, providing approximately 1 inch of water each time. This mimics natural rainfall and helps the plant develop a deep and healthy root system.

  3. Monitor the soil moisture regularly by checking the moisture level with your finger. Stick your finger into the soil at a depth of 2 to 3 inches. If it feels moist, wait a little longer before watering. If it feels dry, it’s time to water.

  4. Avoid shallow and frequent watering, as this can promote shallow root growth and make the plant more susceptible to drought stress.

  5. During periods of heavy rain or prolonged wet weather, reduce watering to prevent waterlogged soil. Boxwood prefers a well-drained soil, and excessive moisture can lead to root rot.

By following these proper planting techniques and caring for boxwood plants, you can ensure their healthy growth and longevity in your landscape. Careful attention to spacing, digging the planting hole, and watering will set your boxwood plants on a path to thrive. Remember to regularly check for pests, provide appropriate fertilization, and conduct routine pruning to maintain the desired shape and appearance.

With their evergreen beauty and versatility, boxwood shrubs can bring an elegant touch to any garden or landscape. Take the time to plant and care for them properly, and you will enjoy their beauty and benefits for years to come.

Mulching For Moisture Retention

Boxwood (Buxus) is a popular evergreen shrub known for its dense foliage and versatility in landscaping. It is widely used for hedges, borders, topiaries, and adding structure to garden beds. If you’re looking to add boxwood to your garden or landscape, it’s essential to understand the proper planting techniques, maintenance, and care required for optimal growth and health.

Step 1: Site Selection

Before planting boxwood, choose a suitable location that offers partial shade to full sun exposure. Ensure the soil is well-draining and fertile. Boxwood prefers slightly alkaline to neutral soil with a pH ranging from 6.5 to 7.5.

Step 2: Soil Preparation

Prepare the planting area by removing any weeds, rocks, or debris. Loosen the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches using a garden fork or tiller. Add organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure to improve soil structure, fertility, and drainage.

Step 3: Mulching

After planting boxwood, apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plant. Mulching helps retain soil moisture, suppresses weed growth, and regulates soil temperature. Use materials such as wood chips, bark, or straw to create a mulch layer about 2-3 inches thick. Ensure the mulch does not touch the boxwood stem to prevent rotting or pest infestation.

Step 4: Watering

Water the newly planted boxwood deeply after mulching. Ensure the soil is evenly moist but not waterlogged. Boxwood requires regular watering, especially during the first year after planting, to develop a robust root system. Monitor the soil moisture by checking the top few inches of soil regularly and adjust watering as needed.

Pruning And Maintenance Tips

Step 1: Pruning Basics

Pruning is essential for maintaining the desired shape, density, and size of boxwood. It also helps in preventing disease and promoting good air circulation. Start pruning boxwood in early spring before new growth appears to minimize stress on the plant. Use sterilized and sharp pruning shears for best results.

Step 2: Shaping and Maintaining Hedges

To shape a boxwood hedge, prune the sides and top in a straight or slightly tapered manner. Cut back any overly long or straggly branches to maintain a uniform look. Eyeball the hedge to ensure it has a consistent height and width. Remember to taper the sides slightly by making the top slightly narrower than the base. This shape allows sunlight to reach all parts of the hedge, preventing the interior from becoming sparse.

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Step 3: Thinning and Encouraging New Growth

To keep the boxwood dense and healthy, periodically thin out any crowded or crossing branches. This process allows light and air to penetrate through the foliage, reducing the risk of diseases. Make thinning cuts from the base of the plant, removing entire branches rather than just trimming the tips. This technique encourages new growth from the base, resulting in a fuller and more vibrant boxwood.

Step 4: Controlling Size

If your boxwood is outgrowing the desired size, regular pruning can help maintain it. Instead of drastically cutting back the branches, opt for light, regular pruning. Remove the growth tips and any branches protruding beyond the desired size. This method maintains the natural form and habit of the boxwood while controlling its size.

Common Pests And Diseases

Boxwood is relatively resistant to many pests and diseases; however, a few common issues may arise. Being aware of these problems can help you prevent and manage them effectively. Here are some common pests and diseases that affect boxwood:

1. Boxwood Leafminer (Monarthropalpus flavus): Leafminers are small fly larvae that tunnel between boxwood leaf layers, causing brown patches and compromising the plant’s health. Prune affected branches and destroy the infested foliage to control the population. Systemic insecticides can also be used as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

2. Boxwood Blight (Cylindrocladium buxicola and Pseudonectria buxi): Boxwood blight is a serious fungal disease that leads to defoliation and dieback of the plant. It is important to promptly remove and destroy infected plants to prevent the spread. Avoid overhead watering and provide proper air circulation to minimize the risk of this disease.

3. Boxwood Psyllid (Psylla buxi): Psyllids are tiny insects that cause curling and yellowing of boxwood leaves. Pruning and removing affected branches help control the population. Beneficial insects like ladybugs and lacewings can also aid in controlling psyllids naturally. In severe cases, insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils can be used.

4. Boxwood Mites (Eurytetranychus buxi): Mites are small arachnids that suck the sap from boxwood leaves, causing yellowing and bronzing. Prune and destroy affected foliage and maintain proper plant hygiene to prevent mite infestations. Insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils can be used as a control measure.

It is crucial to promptly identify and address any pest or disease issues to prevent them from spreading and causing severe damage to your boxwood plants. Regular monitoring and proper maintenance practices will help keep your plants healthy.

Propagating Boxwood

Boxwood can be propagated through various methods, including cuttings, layering, and seed sowing. However, the most commonly used method for propagating boxwood is through cuttings. Here’s how you can propagate boxwood using cuttings:

Step 1: Taking Cuttings

Choose a healthy, disease-free boxwood plant for taking cuttings. Select semi-hardwood cuttings, which are the new growth that has started to mature but is not fully woody. Make the cuttings about 4-6 inches long and remove any foliage from the lower half.

Step 2: Preparing the Cuttings

Dip the base of the cuttings in rooting hormone powder to promote root development. Fill a container or seed tray with a well-draining rooting medium, such as a mixture of perlite and peat moss. Make holes in the medium and insert the cuttings, ensuring that at least two nodes are beneath the surface. Gently firm the medium around the cuttings.

Step 3: Providing Optimal Conditions

Place the container or tray in a well-lit area but away from direct sunlight. Ensure the temperature is consistently around 70-75°F (21-24°C). Mist the cuttings regularly to maintain high humidity levels. Check the moisture levels in the rooting medium and water as needed to keep it evenly moist, but avoid waterlogging.

Step 4: Rooting and Transplanting

Rooting can take several weeks to a couple of months. Once the cuttings have rooted, which can be determined by gently tugging on them, carefully transplant them into individual pots or a nursery bed. Continue to provide them with proper care, including regular watering and protection from extreme temperatures, until they are well-established.


Planting boxwood can add elegance, structure, and evergreen beauty to your garden or landscape. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can ensure successful planting, proper care, and maintenance of your boxwood plants. Remember to provide adequate moisture, mulch to retain soil moisture, perform regular pruning, and monitor for common pests and diseases. With a little time and effort, your boxwood plants will thrive and enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space.


How Much Sunlight Does Boxwood Need?

Boxwood plants prefer partial shade to full sun, typically getting 4-6 hours of direct sunlight per day. However, they can tolerate some shade and can also thrive in full sun with proper care.

When Is The Best Time To Plant Boxwood?

The best time to plant boxwood is in the early spring or fall when the weather is cool and the soil is moist. This allows the plant to establish its root system before the heat of summer or the cold of winter sets in.

What Type Of Soil Is Best For Boxwood?

Boxwood plants prefer moist, well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. They can tolerate a range of soil types, including clay and loam, but it is important to avoid heavy, compacted soils as they can hinder root growth.

How Often Should I Water Boxwood After Planting?

Immediately after planting, water the boxwood deeply to help establish its root system. After that, water the plant once or twice a week, depending on your climate and the amount of rainfall. During periods of drought, water more frequently to prevent the plant from drying out.

How Far Apart Should I Space Boxwood Plants When Planting?

Spacing for boxwood plants depends on the variety, but on average, they should be planted 2-3 feet apart to allow for proper air circulation. If planting in a hedge, space them closer together, about 1-2 feet apart, to achieve a denser look.