Buxus

Buxus (Box) is a popular shrub outdoors, but has only recently been accepted as a house plant. It is tolerant of cool conditions and draughts, producing a dense screen od shiny small leaves. There is an essential requirement – good light, especially in winter. Stand the pot outdoors in summer. These shrubs can be clipped and trained at any time of the year. The only danger is overwatering.

The popular Buxus sempervirens (Common Box) is an evergreen shrub growing to 5 m (16ft) by 5 m (16ft) at a slow rate. Common Box can be grown, but the small-leaved Box (Buxus microphylla) is a better choice. Slow growing – prune to keep in shape. Can be trimmed to decorative shapes.


Buxus tolerate a range of soils, but the soil must be free draining. If hedging, soil must be well dug and heavily enriched with organic matter to ensure the plants thrive. Buxus like a PH of 6.5 to 7.5 PH. Dislike acidic soil. Feed in fall/spring with a complete fertiliser. Use a Dolomite Lime to neutralize the soil, as Buxus do not like acidic soils.

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The evergreen foliage needs to be protected from drying winds in winter. Pruning and shaping may need to be done several times during growing season (spring/summer). Use as hedging or topiary, or in a border.

Secret of success

Temperature: Average or below average warmth. Keep cool in winter.

Light: A well-lit spot – some direct sunlight is beneficial.

Water: Water thoroughly but let the compost become dryish between waterings.

Air humidity: Mist leaves occasionally.

Propagation: Take stem cuttings in late summer.

Problems & diseases: Powdery mildew, canker, root rot, dieback, and leaf spot are common. Leaf miner, scale, caterpillars, psyllids, and mites.

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