HOW TO GROW BEAUTIFUL BOXWOOD
Boxwood are loved for their bright evergreen foliage, versatility, and it’s one of the most deer-resistant plants for your garden. We get many questions on how to care for boxwood.
George Bridge of George Bridge Boxwood and Acorn Farm Nurseries, and George Bridge Landscape Design, has been growing, selling, and installing boxwood with superior performance along the east coast for over 35 years. He has built his reputation as an established industry leader and expert. George shares his best practices on how to care for boxwood and keep them looking green and beautiful all year long.
Expert Care Advice For Maintaining Healthy Boxwood
Start with Healthy Superior Boxwood
When you are purchasing boxwood make sure to purchase it from a reputable nursery like George Bridge Boxwood and Acorn Farm Nurseries. You want to ensure that the boxwood is disease free and the the nursery takes steps to avoid and control the movement of disease. Ask how the nursery manages Boxwood Blight cleanliness. Newly purchased plants can be installed at the time of purchase. However, it’s advisable to separate the plants from your existing boxwood plantings and wait up to 2 to 4 weeks. This way you will make certain the plants are free of any pathogen prior to planting.
Keep Your Boxwood Healthy All Season Long
“The first and best defense against plant diseases is a healthy plant.”¹
Fertilize Boxwood From Top To Bottom
“A properly nourished plant is able to withstand or tolerate the attack of pathogens much better than a plant that has either nutrient deficiencies or excesses. A nutrient-deficient plant will be stressed and therefore more prone to disease attack.”² Just as your lawn requires regular fertilization for overall health, vitality and beauty, so does your boxwood. To optimize the health of your boxwood, fertilize the leaves of the boxwood to provide proper amounts of nutrients for strong growth and intense green leaves. Spray the boxwood with a foliar leaf fertilizer such as TOPBUXUS® Boxwood Restore & Protect Mix, thoroughly covering the leaves until they are slightly dripping.
Fertilize the bottom of the boxwood, its root system as well. Fertilizing the boxwood root system helps increase the nutrient uptake to the stems and to the leaves encouraging continued healthy green growth. Boxwood have wide, shallow root systems and can be damaged by over fertilization. Place the fertilizer near the dripline of the plant and keep the fertilizer from coming into direct contact with the leaves, trunks, and roots. TOPBUXUS® Boxwood Turbo Grow is a fast acting granular fertilizer and an ideal application for the boxwood root system.
As a professional grower of boxwood, George Bridge uses the innovative 2 Step Boxwood Fertilizer Care Program developed just for boxwood by TOPBUXUS®. Developed in Holland by TOPBUXUS®, these groundbreaking fertilizer products target the leaves and root system of the boxwood plant. Check out the benefits of TOPBUXUS® Boxwood Restore & Protect Mix and TOPBUXUS® Boxwood Turbo Grow.
Mulch Underneath And Around The Boxwood Plant
Mulch annually with a thin layer approximately 1 to 2 inches thick and just in front of the dripline to about 8 inches beyond the dripline of the boxwood. Recent research has shown the value of properly mulched boxwood in the management of Boxwood Blight.
Prune Boxwood In Dry Weather
Don’t prune your boxwood when the plant is wet or in high humidity. Water and humidity promotes optimal conditions for Boxwood Blight to appear and increases the likelihood of spreading the infection. Proper pruning helps increase the airflow and sunlight penetration under and around the plant ensuring proper leaf drying.
Collect and remove boxwood debris after pruning or shearing that involve infected plants. Make sure not to compost the debris so you will lessen the spread of the disease. The debris should be bagged for municipal waste.
Clean Your Shears And Pruning Tools
Clean your tools and equipment each time you use them with Lysol Disinfectant Spray for Commercial Use with 58% ethanol and 0.1% dimethylbenzyl ammonium saccharinate. A mixture of household bleach ratio of 1:9 is another alternative, but it does corrode and pit metal tools. After spraying your tool, air dry it for 5 minutes before using it again. Boxwood Blight spores can spread from plant to plant, on clothing, tools and equipment, or splashing water. Once you are finished pruning, make sure you launder your gardening clothes immediately.
Water Boxwood Properly
Avoid overhead or excessive watering or working with boxwood when it’s wet from rain, irrigation or dew. You may want to use a soaker hose or a drip irrigation system. Implementing an irrigation schedule that allows time for the leaves to dry can significantly reduce the spread of disease.
Provide Adequate Drainage
Boxwood plants need to be planted in well-drained soil and at the proper depth. This helps reduce stress and root disease issues.
Routinely Monitor And Inspect Boxwood
Inspect all boxwood plantings in the landscape throughout the growing season. If you observe suspicious symptoms on your boxwood, it’s important to have the disease accurately identified by a specialist.
Protect Boxwood From Winter
Boxwood leaves can become yellow-orange or reddish brown in winter from the drying winds, frost, and intense sun – a problem called bronzing. Protection from the winter winds is key to limiting bronzing. Burlap wraps or windbreaks may be used to protect the leaves. Whether you wrap or not, spraying the boxwood leaves with an anti-transpirant, also called an anti-desiccant like Wilt-Pruf® which is a wax-like substance helps seal moisture in the leaves. This may also help protect the boxwood from winter burn.
When planted right and in the right spot with proper care, Boxwood are exceptionally easy to grow and care for. Keep your boxwood healthy by applying George Bridge’s best care practices.
Enjoy the green beauty of your boxwood all season long!
- Patricia Hosack and Lee Miller, ‘Preventing and Managing Plant Diseases’, University of Missouri Extension Division, Division of Plant Sciences, July 2017, https://extension.missouri.edu/publications/mg13, (accessed 27 February 2021).
- Stephen A. Ferreira, ‘Management Practices to Prevent and Control Plant Diseases’, College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources University of Hawaii at Manoa-Extension Service, CTAHR, Plant Pathology Department, October 1998, https://www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/oc/freepubs/pdf/PD-14.pdf, (accessed 27 February 2021).
- Jim Chatfield, ‘Nine Keys to Plant Disease Prevention’, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, September 2000,https://www.bbg.org/gardening/article/disease_prevention,(accessed 23 February 2021).