Box is commonly used in hedges and decorative topiary in gardens. Boxwood has extraordinary qualities. It is heavy and does not splinter, making it ideal for the manufacture of numerous objects such as string instruments, chessmen, ornamental storage boxes and hair combs.
Buxus sempervirens – or box, as it is commonly known - is native to Mediterranean Europe, where it grows in the wild, and where you even find entire box forests. Did you know that the name sempervirens means “always green”, referring to the plant’s year-round fresh green colour?
Ideal position and temperature
Box is a real outdoor plant, which will look stunning as a solitary plant on your patio or balcony. It is also an ideal hedging plant because it can be beautifully trimmed. It can be placed in full sun, but it also tolerates shade. Box is not very susceptible to frost either.
Water and fertilisers
A potted box plant will need a lot of water. You should bear in mind that a potted box plant will usually be insufficiently watered when it rains because the rainwater will run down the outside of the plant and pot or it will not reach the soil in the pot if the plant is positioned close to a wall. So always water your box plant directly on the soil.
Box plants need water in winter too. They are deciduous plants that will continue to evaporate water even when it’s freezing. That implies a risk of the plant drying out, so remember to keep checking the soil of your box plant to see whether it is becoming too dry. Also make sure that any excess water is properly drained from the pot. Pot your box plant using soil specifically intended for box plants. Box plants like compost and lime. An extra dose of magnesium lime (sold under the name of for example Dolokal) once a year in February/March will do the plant a lot of good. In March/April you can give your plant special box fertiliser to ensure foliage of a fine dark green colour.
Repotting and pruning
Prune your box twice a year, preferably in May and October, using sharp pruning shears. Don't do this in full sun, or else your plant may dry out and its leaves may burn. Box plants are very suitable for topiary pruning. It is advisable to repot your box plant every three years. Its foliage will then retain its fresh green colour. Use special box soil containing compost and lime to repot your plant.
Most common pests and diseases
Box is not very susceptible to pests and diseases. Potted box plants do require extra attention though.