Boxwoods (Buxus spp.) are evergreen plants with a dense growth habit widely used for creating hedges and screens in landscapes. The plants come in nearly 160 different registered varieties, of which 115 are available commercially, according to the Alabama Cooperative Extension. Boxwoods grow best when provided optimal growth conditions and when spaced properly.
Hedges grown with boxwoods give their best effect when they are dense and compact. If the intention is to grow a small and formal hedge, plant the boxwoods 6 to 8 inches apart. If using the larger-growing varieties that have taller mature heights, space the plants 18 to 30 inches apart, as recommended by the Purdue Cooperative Extension. In case a thick hedge is required, plant two rows so that the first plant in the second row is located between the first two in the first row, creating a zigzag pattern. Space the rows about a foot apart.
Plant boxwoods in very well-drained soil with a preferred pH ranging between 5.5 and 7.5. Avoid planting in low-lying areas that tend to collect water or remain wet for extended periods of time. Amend the soil with sulfur or lime to fix the soil pH if required. Though the plants also adapt to areas of full sun, growth is best in sites that receive partial sun. Apply a 2-to-3-inch layer of organic mulch, such as pine needles or wood chips, after planting.
Schedule the planting during fall or between late winter and early spring. Dig the planting hole twice as wide and twice as deep as the container in which the plant was originally growing. Fill in the planting hole with very well-draining and good-quality topsoil as this will help in rapid establishment and growth. Planting very deep will result in poor plant health. Water regularly and enough to moisten the entire root zone area. Light watering or sprinkling that only moistens the upper soil area is harmful to the plant in the long run.
It is easy to propagate boxwoods with seeds or cuttings. Cuttings root rapidly and grow into exact replicas of the parent plant, while the seed-grown plants often display variations not found in the parent plants. Winter and cold hardiness also differ in the seed-grown plants. Take semi-hardwood cuttings 4 to 6 inches long from the current growth in the summer, and plant them in moist beds or pots filled with potting soil. Keep out of direct sun. Plant them in a permanent spot after the cuttings have rooted.
Irum Sarfaraz is a freelance writer with over 20 years of nonfiction writing experience in newspaper op-eds and magazine writing, book editing, translating and research writing. Sarfaraz is originally from Pakistan and has been published in both American and Pakistani newspapers and magazines. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature, and diplomas in nonfiction writing.