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Buxus: the green all-rounder!

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by Colour Your Life • Friday March 25, 2016

Why is box (Buxus) so popular with gardeners? Easy - Buxus is green all year round, is always attractive and can be pruned into almost any shape or size your imagination dreams of or your space allows. Do you have a small garden or balcony? That’s great too! Because it grows slowly, it’s perfect as a patio plant and ideal for small gardens and balconies.

European Buxus sempervirens (that means evergreen) is ideal for pruning and shaping – also known as topiary.  The closely related Buxus sempervirens 'Elegantissima’ also responds well to pruning, plus it has variegated leaves. For high hedges, choose fast growing Buxus 'Rotundifolia'.  For a slow growing, compact bush reaching about 1 metre at maturity, choose Buxus microphylla, the leaves of which can turn bronze in winter.

Do you want perfect balls?

Can you achieve professional results pruning a pot-grown box shrub? Yes, if you follow some simple steps (and practice). Place the pot at a good working height. Take your shears and start working at the bottom. Turn the shears over so that you can follow the spherical shape more easily. Follow the shape, cutting as you go. Finally, trim the top. The result should be a tight spherical shape.

You can let your box plant grow into a larger bush.  The plant is versatile and will be attractive however you choose to maintain it.  If you do choose to prune, box benefits from clipping at least twice a year. Pruning does encourage strength.  Do it regularly and you’ll have a green body builder in your garden!

Good to know:

  • Don’t allow box to dry out for long periods.  Make sure you continue to watery even in winter (especially container grown plants) and feed with a water-soluble fertilizer monthly.  They prefer neutral to alkaline conditions so apply a little lime if your soil tends towards acidic.
  • Box thrives in the sun, but also does well in shade, where the leaves will develop a deep green colour.
  • Tip: pot-grown box plants receive very little rainwater because the plant has such dense foliage. Check daily that the soil isn’t too dry and give plants a drink if they need it.

 

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