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Used in formal hedges, massed for effect and sometimes trimmed into unique topiary, boxwood shrubs are staples in formal gardens. There are a range of cultivars with various heights and shapes. All are slow-growing broadleaf evergreens with dense habits.

Examples of boxwood shrubs in the landscape

Boxwood has a reputation for being neat and tidy … and low-maintenance, given the right conditions. Where they can avoid the extremes of heat and cold, boxwoods can live long, healthy lives. Common boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) is hardy from Zones 6–9. Littleleaf boxwood (Buxus microphylla var. koreana) is hardy in Zone 5 and may even survive Zone 4 winters.

While the species can grow 15–20 feet tall, most cultivars are under 5 feet in height. They’re slow growing, so it’s not a problem to keep them at a shorter height if desired.

Because of their dense, green foliage, boxwoods make a nice frame or backdrop for bright flowers such as begonia, dusty miller, sweet alyssum, coneflower (Echinacea spp.) and Liatris. They also pair well with other shrubs such as hydrangea, pyracantha and shrub roses.

detail photo of boxwood shrub foliage

Plant Type: Shrub

Zones: 5–9

Height: 18 in–15 ft

Width: 18 in–5 ft

Light Exposure: Full Sun, Partial Sun

Foliage Color: Green, Variegated

Special Features: Low Maintenance, Winter Interest

Uses: Container Plant, Screen/Privacy, Hedge, Foundation

Growing Boxwood

Boxwood requires a well-drained, moist soil that has been amended with compost. It is shallow-rooted, so avoid digging or planting around the base—a good, thick mulch is better. Remove fallen leaves in branch crotches to prevent twig canker. Some protection from hot, drying winds is helpful. Boxwood will grow in full sun or part shade.

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