With good care, you can enjoy the boxwood for years. The common boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) is usually very expensive, because it grows only about ten centimeters per year, and therefore requires a long time to grow and care for. However, if you have a little patience, you can propagate the plant quite easily by cuttings.
Whether as a hedge, border or cut into artistic shapes – boxwoods cut a good figure. Tips for care, proper pruning, as well as help with diseases.
Location, care and the right fertilizer for boxwoods
Boxwood prefers to grow in humus-rich, loose garden soil, but it also does well in other types of soil. Regular fertilizing with organic material such as horn shavings, blood meal or compost improves the soil, gives the boxwood sufficient nutrients and ensures healthy growth. Special boxwood fertilizer for the irrigation water is also available in stores. Depot fertilizer is practical: the beads ensure a steady release of nutrients over six months. Then fertilizing is only necessary twice a year, in spring and late summer.
If white edges or a pale color form, this indicates a lack of lime or nutrients. Once the boxwood is established, it is low maintenance and only requires additional watering on very dry summer days. Like all evergreen plants, it also needs water in dry winters. The plant feels most comfortable in partial shade.
Correctly cut boxwoods
Boxwood can be pruned from March to September, and there are two main pruning phases: fine pruning and rough pruning. Rough pruning should be done in the spring, when the boxwood has not yet formed new shoots, that is, in March and April. This gives it the shape it should have in the summer. Fine pruning takes place from May to September. When the boxwood sprouts, cut off about two-thirds of the fresh shoots so that the plant keeps its shape.
For those who don’t want to rely solely on their eye for topiary, specialty retailers offer lattice form sets in a variety of sizes. These forms are made of weatherproof wire mesh and enclose the boxwood. They can be fixed in place and any shoots that protrude from the grid can be easily cut off.
Use sharp tools for pruning
Boxwood should be cut only with sharp tools. As soon as the leaves are bruised or torn open by blunt blades, fungi have an easy time. For this reason, the plant should also not be pruned in the rain, in the blazing sun he can get sunburn.
Shoot death on boxwood: what to do about the fungus?
Over- and under-fertilization, burns from the sun or too acidic soil make the boxwood susceptible to diseases and pests, especially fungi. If the boxwood has dry, brown to black spots and loses many leaves within a very short time, it has probably become infected with the aggressive fungus Cylindrocladium buxicola. This disease is known as boxwood shoot dieback.
If a boxwood is infected, the entire plant and the fallen foliage must be destroyed – in the residual waste, by incineration or professional composting.
Infestation by the boxwood borer
For several years, the boxwood borer has been spreading in our latitudes. The butterfly caterpillar originates from Asia. Eaten leaves and webs are a sign of infestation. Particularly treacherous: the caterpillars sit inside the plant and feed from the inside out, so that the infestation is often only noticed late.
If you discover the boxwood borer in time, you can try to collect it. If the infestation is more severe, severe pruning and the use of biological preparations to control it are recommended.
Planting boxwoods in a pot
If you want to transplant a boxwood from the garden into a pot, you need to take into account: The larger and older the tree, the lower the chances that it will grow back well. In any case, it should be dug up very generously and placed just as generously in the pot. The many innumerable small roots that a boxwood has are responsible for the water absorption of the tree and should be preserved as completely as possible. For transplanting, it is best to choose a cool and humid day and water the boxwood sufficiently during the first days in the pot so that it can grow well.
Box trees are poisonous
Boxwoods are highly toxic. Especially the alkaloid buxin contained in the bark and leaves can cause vomiting, diarrhea and paralysis in sensitive people and animals. Anyone with injuries to their hands should wear gloves when handling box plants, as inflammation can be aggravated by the buxin.