How To Plant Boxwoods For Hedges [ Full Guide ]

Boxwoods are popular evergreen shrubs that are widely used for creating hedges due to their dense foliage, compact growth, and ability to be pruned into formal shapes. When planted and maintained properly, boxwoods can add structure, privacy, and ornamental value to any garden or landscape. When planting boxwoods for hedges, it’s crucial to understand the specific requirements and techniques involved to ensure the success and long-term health of the plants.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Boxwoods For Hedges

Planting boxwoods for hedges involves several key steps:

  1. Choosing the Right Boxwood: Select the appropriate boxwood species or cultivar based on your climate, sunlight, and size requirements.
  2. Site Selection and Preparation: Prepare the planting site by clearing the area, improving soil drainage, and ensuring adequate sunlight.
  3. Soil Requirements for Boxwoods: Amend the soil with organic matter, perform a soil test, and adjust pH as necessary.
  4. Planting and Care: Dig proper planting holes, place the boxwoods, backfill with soil, water thoroughly, and provide ongoing maintenance.

By following these steps, you can establish healthy and attractive boxwood hedges that will thrive for years to come.

Choosing The Right Boxwood For Your Hedge

Before planting boxwood hedges, it’s essential to choose the right species or cultivar that suits your specific needs and growing conditions. Consider the following factors when selecting boxwoods for hedges:

Climate And Hardiness

Boxwoods are available in various species, each with different hardiness levels and climate preferences. When choosing boxwoods for hedges, consider the hardiness zone of your location and select a species that can withstand the winter temperatures in your area. Common boxwood species such as Buxus sempervirens, Buxus microphylla, and Buxus sinica are widely used for hedges and are adaptable to a range of climates.

Size And Growth Habit

Boxwoods exhibit a range of growth habits, from compact to more expansive forms. Consider the desired height and width of your hedge when choosing a boxwood variety. Some popular cultivars for formal hedges include “Green Velvet”, “Winter Gem”, and ‘Sprinter’ for their dense growth and moderate height.

Sunlight Requirements

Boxwoods generally thrive in partial to full sunlight. Before selecting a boxwood variety, assess the sunlight conditions in the intended planting site for your hedge to ensure that the chosen species will receive adequate light. While most boxwoods prefer at least partial sunlight, certain cultivars may tolerate more shade or sun, so it’s essential to match the plant’s light requirements to your garden’s conditions.

Disease Resistance

Consider the disease resistance of different boxwood varieties when choosing plants for your hedge. Some species, such as Buxus sempervirens, are known for their resistance to common boxwood diseases like boxwood blight, which can help ensure the long-term health and longevity of your hedge.

Maintenance Requirements

Different boxwood species and cultivars may have varying maintenance needs, such as pruning frequency, fertilization requirements, and tolerance to shaping. Consider the amount of maintenance you are willing to commit to when selecting a boxwood variety for your hedge, and choose a cultivar that aligns with your maintenance preferences and gardening skills.

By carefully considering these factors, you can choose the most suitable boxwood variety for your hedge that will thrive in your specific growing conditions and meet your aesthetic and practical preferences.

Site Selection And Preparation

The success of a boxwood hedge largely depends on the proper selection and preparation of the planting site. Follow these guidelines to ensure that your hedge site is well-prepared for the boxwoods:

Clearing The Area

Before planting boxwoods, clear the planting area of any existing vegetation, weeds, rocks, or debris that may inhibit the growth of the hedge. Removing competing plants and debris allows the boxwoods to establish themselves without competition for resources.

Sunlight Consideration

Ensure that the planting site receives adequate sunlight for the boxwoods to thrive. While boxwoods can tolerate partial shade, they generally prefer locations with at least partial sunlight. Evaluate the site throughout the day to determine its sunlight exposure and choose a location that meets the sunlight requirements of the selected boxwood variety.

Soil Drainage Assessment

Assess the drainage of the planting site to ensure that water does not pool around the roots of the boxwoods, which can lead to root rot and other issues. If the area is prone to waterlogging, consider implementing measures to improve drainage, such as incorporating organic matter into the soil or creating raised beds to elevate the planting area.

Spacing Consideration

Determine the appropriate spacing between boxwood plants based on the selected variety’s mature size. Proper spacing allows the individual boxwoods to grow and fill out without overcrowding, promoting a healthy and uniform hedge. Generally, spacing boxwoods at a distance equivalent to half of their mature width is a good starting point.

By preparing the planting site carefully, you can create an optimal environment for the boxwoods to thrive and form a lush, attractive hedge.

Soil Requirements For Boxwoods

Boxwoods thrive in well-drained, slightly acidic soil that is rich in organic matter. Before planting boxwoods for hedges, assess the soil composition and make any necessary amendments to create a favorable growing environment for the plants.

Soil Test

Perform a soil test to evaluate the pH, nutrient levels, and texture of the soil in the planting area. A soil test provides crucial information about the soil’s composition and enables you to make informed decisions about soil amendments. Contact your local extension office or a reputable soil testing lab to obtain a comprehensive analysis of the soil on your property.

Soil Ph Adjustment

Boxwoods prefer slightly acidic soil with a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0. If the soil test indicates that the pH is outside of this range, adjust the pH by incorporating soil amendments. Adding elemental sulfur can lower the pH of alkaline soil, while incorporating lime can raise the pH of acidic soil. Adjust the pH gradually over time to avoid shocking the plants with abrupt pH changes.

Organic Matter Addition

Introduce organic matter such as compost, well-rotted manure, or peat moss into the soil to improve its structure, fertility, and moisture retention. Work the organic matter into the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches, ensuring that it is evenly distributed throughout the planting area. Organic matter helps create a fertile and well-aerated growing medium that supports healthy root development and overall plant growth.

Drainage Enhancement

If the soil at the planting site is heavy or has poor drainage, take steps to improve its drainage capacity. Incorporating coarse sand or perlite into the soil can enhance its drainage characteristics, preventing waterlogged conditions that can be detrimental to boxwoods. Alternatively, consider planting boxwoods in raised beds or mounds to elevate the root zone above poorly draining soil.

By addressing the soil requirements and making necessary amendments, you can create an optimal growing environment that promotes the health and vitality of boxwoods in your hedge.

Planting And Care

Once you have selected the right boxwood variety, prepared the planting site, and amended the soil, it’s time to plant the boxwoods and provide the necessary care to ensure their establishment and long-term growth.

RELATED  How To Plant Money Tree [ Full Guide ]

Planting Procedure

  1. Digging Holes: Dig individual planting holes for the boxwoods, ensuring that each hole is wide and deep enough to accommodate the root ball of the plant while allowing room for the roots to spread.
  2. Placement and Backfilling: Place the boxwoods in the planting holes at the same depth they were growing in their nursery containers. Backfill the holes with the amended soil, gently firming the soil around the roots to eliminate air pockets.
  3. Watering: Water the newly planted boxwoods thoroughly to settle the soil and provide moisture to the roots. Ensure that the soil around the plants is evenly moist but not waterlogged, particularly during the establishment period.


Apply a layer of organic mulch around the newly planted boxwoods to conserve soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, and suppress weed growth. Use organic mulch such as shredded bark, straw, or wood chips, and spread it in a layer about 2-3 inches thick, keeping it several inches away from the base of the plants to prevent excessive moisture retention against the stems.

Watering And Maintenance

Provide regular watering to the boxwoods, particularly during dry periods, to support their establishment and growth. Aim to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.

Additionally, monitor the boxwoods for signs of stress, disease, or pest infestations, and promptly address any issues that arise. Prune the boxwoods as necessary to maintain the desired shape and size of the hedge, and apply a balanced fertilizer according to the recommended schedule to provide necessary nutrients for healthy growth.

Planting boxwoods for hedges requires thoughtful consideration of the boxwood variety, site selection and preparation, soil requirements, and ongoing care. By selecting suitable boxwood species or cultivars, preparing an optimal planting site, addressing soil requirements, and providing proper care, you can establish a beautiful and thriving boxwood hedge that enhances your landscape with its evergreen foliage and structured form. Following the guidelines outlined in this article will help ensure the successful establishment and long-term health of your boxwood hedges, providing you with a visually appealing and functional element in your garden or landscape.

Optimal Planting Time

Boxwoods (Buxus) are popular shrubs known for their dense and compact growth, making them ideal for creating hedges. With their evergreen foliage, boxwood hedges provide privacy, define boundaries, and have an elegant appearance that adds beauty to any landscape. If you’re looking to plant boxwoods for hedges, there are a few essential factors to consider, such as optimal planting time, the type of boxwoods, watering and fertilizing needs, as well as pruning and maintenance tips.

The best time to plant boxwood bushes for hedges is during the dormant season, which is typically in late fall or early spring. Planting during these times allows the root systems of the boxwoods to establish themselves before facing the challenges of extreme weather conditions. In many regions, planting in the spring is preferred, as it gives boxwoods enough time to adapt to their new surroundings before the heat of summer arrives. However, planting in the fall can also be successful, especially in areas with mild winters.

Container-Grown Vs. Bare-Root Boxwoods

When choosing boxwoods for your hedges, you will typically have the option of purchasing either container-grown or bare-root plants. Each option has its own advantages and considerations.

Container-Grown Boxwoods
Container-grown boxwoods are sold with their roots intact within a pot or container. These plants are readily available in garden centers and nurseries. They offer the advantage of being able to be planted at almost any time of the year, as long as the soil is not frozen. Container-grown boxwoods have an established root system, which means they can quickly adapt and start growing once planted. However, they can be more expensive than bare-root options.

Bare-Root Boxwoods
Bare-root boxwoods are sold without soil around their roots. These plants are typically only available for a short period during the dormant season, such as late fall or early spring. Bare-root boxwoods are more affordable than container-grown ones and often come with a wider selection of cultivars. These plants establish quickly once planted, but they require extra care and attention during the initial planting process.

Regardless of whether you choose container-grown or bare-root boxwoods, it’s essential to select healthy plants with no visible signs of damage or disease. Look for well-shaped shrubs with vibrant foliage and a good root system.

Watering And Fertilizing Needs For Boxwood Hedges

Proper hydration and nutrition are crucial for the healthy growth and establishment of boxwood hedges. Here are some guidelines for watering and fertilizing your boxwoods:


  • After planting, thoroughly water your newly planted boxwood shrubs. This ensures that the soil is adequately moist and facilitates the settling of the soil around the roots.
  • Establish a regular watering schedule for the first year of growth. Water deeply rather than frequently to encourage deep root establishment. This helps the plants become more resilient to drought conditions.
  • Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to waterlogged soil, root rot, and other diseases. Ensure the soil drains well and allow it to dry slightly between watering intervals.
  • During hot and dry periods, water more frequently to prevent the shrubs from becoming stressed and experiencing leaf scorch.


  • Prior to planting, amend the soil with organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure. This enriches the soil and provides essential nutrients for the boxwoods.
  • Apply a slow-release granular fertilizer designed for broadleaf evergreens in early spring. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the application rate and frequency.
  • In subsequent years, continue fertilizing annually in early spring or late winter. This will help maintain the health and vigor of the boxwood hedges.
  • Avoid excess fertilizer, as it can result in excessive growth or promote susceptibility to pests and diseases. Always follow the recommended dosage and avoid fertilizing after mid-summer to prevent new growth susceptible to frost damage.

It’s important to note that proper watering and fertilizing practices may vary depending on your specific climate and soil conditions. Monitor your boxwood hedges closely and adjust your watering and fertilizing routine accordingly.

Pruning And Maintenance Tips

Pruning and maintenance are vital for keeping your boxwood hedges in shape, promoting healthy growth, and maintaining their aesthetic appeal. Follow these tips to ensure your boxwood hedges thrive:

Pruning Techniques:

  • Start pruning boxwoods for hedges in their second year of growth. This allows the shrubs to establish their root systems before undergoing significant pruning.
  • Use sharp and clean pruning shears to make clean cuts, minimizing the risk of disease transmission.
  • When shaping your boxwood hedge, aim for a slightly tapered shape, with the bottom being wider than the top. This allows sunlight to reach the lower foliage and ensures uniform growth.
  • Remove any dead, diseased, or damaged branches promptly to prevent the spread of pests or diseases to healthier parts of the hedge.
  • Lightly prune the boxwood hedges in late spring or early summer to maintain their desired shape. Avoid cutting into old wood as it may not produce new growth.
  • Avoid heavy pruning during late summer or early fall, as it can stimulate new growth that is vulnerable to winter frost damage.
  • Regularly inspect your boxwood hedges for signs of pests or diseases. Common issues include boxwood blight, boxwood leafminer, and mites. If you notice any problems, take appropriate measures immediately to prevent further damage.
RELATED  How To Plant Tulips In Spring [ Full Guide ]

Maintenance Tips:

  • Mulch around the base of your boxwood hedges to help retain moisture, suppress weed growth, and protect the roots from temperature fluctuations. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or shredded bark, but keep it a few inches away from the base of the shrubs to prevent rot.
  • Regularly check the soil moisture level and water when necessary, especially during hot and dry periods.
  • Inspect the boxwoods for any signs of stress, such as yellowing or browning leaves. Address these issues promptly to prevent further damage to the hedge.
  • Keep the area around the boxwood hedges clear of debris, fallen leaves, and weeds. This reduces the risk of pests and diseases taking hold.
  • Regularly monitor the growth of the boxwood hedges and adjust your pruning schedule accordingly. Over time, you may need to trim the hedges more frequently to maintain their desired shape.

Planting boxwoods for hedges can transform your landscape into a stunning and well-defined space. By considering the optimal planting time, choosing between container-grown and bare-root boxwoods, providing adequate watering and fertilizing, and following proper pruning and maintenance techniques, you can ensure the success and longevity of your boxwood hedges. Remember to select healthy plants, monitor their growth closely, and promptly address any issues that arise. With proper care, your boxwood hedges will flourish, providing beauty and privacy for years to come.

Choosing The Right Boxwood Varieties

Boxwoods are an excellent choice for creating hedges due to their dense foliage, compact growth habit, and ability to be pruned into various shapes and sizes. Whether you’re looking to define boundaries, add privacy, or simply enhance the aesthetic appeal of your garden, planting boxwood hedges can provide structure and beauty to any landscape.

Before you can start planting your boxwood hedges, it’s crucial to select the right boxwood varieties for your specific needs and growing conditions. There are several popular boxwood cultivars to choose from, each with its own unique characteristics. Here are a few popular options:

  1. Green Velvet Boxwood – This variety is known for its lush, dark green foliage and compact growth habit. It can withstand both sun and shade, making it a versatile choice for hedges.

  2. Wintergreen Boxwood – With its glossy, dark green leaves, the Wintergreen Boxwood is a classic choice for hedges. It tolerates heat and cold well and maintains its color throughout the year.

  3. Variegated Boxwood – If you’re looking for a boxwood variety that adds a touch of uniqueness to your hedges, consider the Variegated Boxwood. Its foliage features a cream-colored margin, providing an attractive contrast against the deep green leaves.

  4. Justin Brouwers Boxwood – This compact variety is perfect for smaller hedges or low borders. It has a dense growth habit and requires minimal pruning.

Site Selection And Preparation

Once you’ve chosen the boxwood varieties that suit your needs, it’s essential to select the right site for planting your hedges. Here are some tips to consider:

  1. Sunlight Requirements – Boxwoods thrive in partial shade to full sun, depending on the variety. Ensure that the site you choose receives the required amount of sunlight for your selected boxwood cultivars.

  2. Soil Conditions – Boxwoods prefer well-draining soil rich in organic matter. Before planting, assess the soil’s drainage by digging a hole and filling it with water. If the water drains within a few hours, the soil is suitable for planting boxwoods.

  3. Spacing – Plan the spacing between boxwood plants based on the mature size of the selected cultivars. Typically, spacing boxwoods 2-3 feet apart is recommended for creating a dense hedge.

  4. Clear the Area – Remove any weeds, rocks, or other obstacles from the planting site. This step is crucial to ensure proper growth and development of the boxwoods.

Once you have identified a suitable site, follow these steps to prepare the area for planting:

  1. Clear the Ground – Remove grass, weeds, and other vegetation from the planting area. This can be done manually using a shovel or with the help of herbicides if necessary.

  2. Improve Soil Drainage – If the soil is heavy clay or poorly draining, consider amending it with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. This will help improve the drainage and fertility of the soil.

  3. Test Soil pH – Boxwoods prefer slightly acidic to neutral pH levels (around 6.5-7.0). Conduct a soil test to determine the pH level of your soil. If the pH is too high or too low, you can adjust it by adding lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it.

Planting Techniques

Now that you have prepared the site for planting, it’s time to dig in and start planting your boxwood hedges. Follow these steps for successful planting:

  1. Digging the Hole – Dig a hole that is twice the width and slightly deeper than the root ball of the boxwood plant. This extra space will allow the roots to spread and establish more quickly.

  2. Removing the Plant from the Container – Gently remove the boxwood plant from its container, taking care not to damage the roots. If the roots are tightly bound, make a few vertical cuts on the sides of the root ball using a sharp knife or pruners. This will encourage the roots to grow outwards once planted.

  3. Placing the Plant in the Hole – Lower the boxwood plant into the hole, making sure that it sits at the same level it was growing in the container. Avoid planting too deep, as this can lead to root rot or suffocation.

  4. Backfilling and Firming the Soil – Fill the hole with the amended soil, gently firming it around the roots as you go. Avoid applying excessive pressure, as this can compact the soil and hinder root growth.

  5. Watering – After planting, thoroughly water the boxwood hedge to settle the soil around the roots. Keep the soil consistently moist during the establishment period, typically the first year after planting.

  6. Mulching – Apply a layer of mulch around the base of the boxwood hedge, leaving a small gap around the stem to prevent trunk rot. Mulch helps retain soil moisture, suppresses weeds, and provides insulation to the roots.

  7. Pruning – While it’s not necessary to prune boxwood hedges immediately after planting, it’s a good idea to shape and maintain them regularly to encourage dense growth and desired size.

Pest And Disease Prevention And Control

Like any plant, boxwoods are susceptible to pests and diseases. However, by implementing preventive measures and proper care, you can minimize the risk of infestations and keep your boxwood hedges healthy. Here are some common pests and diseases to watch out for and methods to control them:

  1. Boxwood Leaf Miner – These small yellow-orange flies lay their eggs inside the boxwood leaves, causing unsightly brown patches and blisters. To control leaf miners, prune and destroy affected foliage, or use insecticides labeled for leaf miner control.

  2. Boxwood Psyllid – Psyllids are tiny, jumping insects that cause distorted growth and yellowing of boxwood leaves. Regularly pruning and removing affected foliage can help prevent psyllid infestations. Insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils can also be sprayed to control the insects.

  3. Boxwood Blight – Boxwood blight is a fungal disease that causes defoliation and dieback of boxwood plants. To prevent blight, avoid overhead watering, space plants properly to promote airflow, and promptly remove and destroy infected plant parts. Fungicides can be used as a preventive measure in high-risk areas.

  4. Boxwood Mites – Mites are tiny pests that feed on the underside of boxwood leaves, causing yellowing and bronzing of foliage. Pruning and destroying heavily infested branches, as well as regular water sprays to increase humidity, can help control mite populations. In severe cases, insecticidal soaps or miticides may be necessary.

  5. Boxwood Decline – Boxwood decline is a complex condition that weakens the plant and makes it susceptible to other diseases and pests. Proper cultural practices, such as avoiding overwatering and applying balanced fertilizers, can help prevent decline. Regularly inspecting the plants for any signs of stress or disease is also essential to catch and address issues early on.

RELATED  How To Plant Succulents In Terrarium [ Full Guide ]

It’s important to note that prevention is always better than cure when it comes to pests and diseases. Maintaining proper plant hygiene, providing adequate watering and nutrition, and promptly addressing any issues that arise will go a long way in ensuring the health and vitality of your boxwood hedges.

Companion Plants To Enhance Boxwood Hedges

Companion planting is an excellent way to enhance the beauty of your boxwood hedges and create a harmonious garden design. By selecting suitable companion plants, you can add texture, color, and seasonal interest to your hedge. Here are some companion plant options that pair well with boxwood hedges:

  1. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) – The fragrant purple flowers and silver-green foliage of lavender provide a stunning contrast against the dark green boxwood leaves. This combination adds both visual interest and sensory delight to the garden.

  2. Siberian Iris (Iris sibirica) – The elegant blooms of Siberian Iris, available in a range of colors, create a beautiful backdrop for boxwood hedges. The vertical growth habit of irises complements the compact, rounded form of boxwoods, resulting in a pleasing contrast.

  3. Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum) – The delicate fronds of Japanese Painted Fern offer a splash of color with their silver and purple hues. When planted beneath boxwood hedges, the ferns create a textural contrast that adds depth and dimension to the overall composition.

  4. Coneflowers (Echinacea spp.) – The vibrant blooms of coneflowers, available in various shades of pink, purple, and white, inject a pop of color into the landscape. Planted in front of boxwood hedges, coneflowers create a dynamic and colorful border.

  5. Dwarf Fountain Grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides) – The feathery plumes and graceful arching form of dwarf fountain grass provide an excellent complement to the formal structure of boxwood hedges. The contrast between the soft texture of the grass and the boxwood foliage creates a visually appealing combination.

When selecting companion plants for your boxwood hedges, consider factors such as growth habit, color, texture, and seasonal interest. Aim for a harmonious blend that enhances the overall aesthetic appeal of your garden.

Creative Design Ideas For Boxwood Hedges

Boxwood hedges offer a versatile canvas for creativity in garden design. With their dense growth habit and ability to be pruned into various shapes, boxwoods can be used to create formal, geometric designs or more relaxed, informal arrangements. Here are some creative design ideas to inspire your boxwood hedge projects:

  1. Parterre Garden – Parterre gardens are characterized by intricate patterns formed by geometrically shaped hedges. Use low-growing boxwood varieties, such as Justin Brouwers or Green Velvet, to create the desired shapes and fill them with colorful flowers or herbs for an elegant and structured garden design.

  2. Curved Edges – Instead of the classic straight-lined hedges, experiment with curved edges to add fluidity and movement to your garden. Plant taller boxwood varieties, such as Wintergreen or English Boxwood, and use gentle curves to create a more informal and natural look.

  3. Topiary Art – Boxwoods lend themselves well to topiary art with their dense foliage and ability to tolerate regular pruning. Sculpt your boxwood hedges into various shapes, such as balls, pyramids, or animal forms, to create focal points or add whimsy to your garden.

  4. Mixed Hedge – Combine different boxwood varieties or alternate boxwoods with other evergreen shrubs to create a mixed hedge. Introducing varied textures, colors, and growth habits can add depth and visual interest to your hedges.

  5. Tiered Hedges – Plant boxwoods in tiers or steps to create a multi-level hedge. This design technique adds depth and dimension to your landscape and can be especially effective on sloped terrains.

Remember to consider the mature size and growth characteristics of each boxwood variety when planning your creative designs. Regular pruning will be required to maintain the desired shape and size of your boxwood hedges.


Planting boxwoods for hedges can be a rewarding endeavor that adds structure, beauty, and versatility to your landscape. By selecting the right boxwood varieties, preparing the site properly, and implementing proper care and maintenance techniques, you can create stunning hedges that enhance the overall aesthetic of your garden. Additionally, considering companion plants and incorporating creative design ideas can elevate the visual appeal of your boxwood hedges. So go ahead, get your hands dirty, and enjoy the process of planting boxwoods for hedges to transform your outdoor space into a lush, green sanctuary.


What Is The Best Time Of Year To Plant Boxwoods For Hedges?

The best time to plant boxwoods for hedges is in early spring or fall when the weather is cool and soil is moist.

How Far Apart Should Boxwoods Be Planted For A Hedge?

Boxwoods should be planted 12-18 inches apart for a low hedge and 3-4 feet apart for a taller hedge.

Should I Add Any Soil Amendments When Planting Boxwoods For Hedges?

It is not necessary to add any soil amendments when planting boxwoods for hedges. However, mixing in well-rotted compost can help improve soil structure and provide essential nutrients.

How Much Water Do Boxwoods Need When First Planted For Hedges?

Boxwoods should be watered thoroughly after planting and then lightly watered once a week for the first year. After the first year, they only need to be watered during prolonged periods of drought.

Can Boxwoods Be Trimmed Into Any Shape For A Hedge?

Yes, boxwoods are ideal for shaping into hedges due to their dense and compact growth habit. However, it is important to use sharp and clean tools for precision and to avoid damaging the plants.