Boxwood, The Stay Green Shrub

 Boxwood The Stay Green Shrub


                If you live in a northern climate like I do, come January you are probably done with white being the main colour everywhere.  Luckily, with a little planning, you can help curb some of those wintertime longings for something green and lively.

                One of my garden favourites for winter is boxwood shrubs.  These hardy bushes stay green all year-long and make for a great backdrop for Christmas lights and vibrant coloured flowers.  Since boxwoods are hardy, they are an excellent plant for beginners or for people who want to “plant it and forget it.”  Most people use boxwoods as hedges within their landscape since they grow thick and dense and can be shaped easily.  One thing to note however, boxwoods are slow growing shrubs by nature.  If you make an error during the pruning process, you will be looking at your error for quite some time.

                Boxwoods do best in full sun to partial shade and don’t like soil that is constantly wet (moist is fine).  On the flip-side, don’t let your boxwood get too dry either.  A good watering (approximately 1 inch of water or a good rainfall) once a week is about all they need to flourish.  If you choose to add landscaping ground-cover to your boxwood area, ensure that you use wood mulch, cocoa bean mulch or a non-invasive ground-cover plant (such as strawberries).  Stay away from landscaping rock as the rock will radiate the heat from the sun and can cause damage to your boxwood.  Wood and cocoa bean mulch help to keep your soil moist and cool, while providing organic material for the soil, allowing your boxwood to flourish.

                In addition to being a great hedge plant, boxwoods possess additional perks.  There are numerous species of boxwoods giving you an array of choices to ponder until you find one that suits your liking including species that do very well in the city and are able to handle the pollutants that accompany urban life.  Second, unlike other shrubs (such as roses, barberries, cranberries, rhododendrons, weigelas), boxwoods are not normally a tasty treat to your neighbourhood rabbit or deer population saving you from partially eaten plants every spring.

                While boxwoods do have several positives, there are a couple drawbacks.  First, they don’t handle the harsh winter winds well and need some protection.  Therefore, if you need a hedge for a windbreak, boxwoods would not be your best choice.  Second, boxwoods need some protection from the ice and snow.  You can cover them with burlap or any other breathable material or, if you are diligent, you can brush the snow and ice off of your bushes.  The main thing to remember is: don’t let ice and snow build up on your plant as this will damage the branches and leaves.  If you take care of your boxwood, it will reward you by bringing you many years of green enjoyment during the long winter months.

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