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How to plant and grow Buxus topiary and hedges
Last Updated on April 27, 2020 by John
If you are looking to grow buxus topiaries and hedges, you have a variety of options at your disposal. Picking the right variety is the first step in growing Buxus topiaries and hedges.
Some varieties, for example, do better as thicker, fuller hedges especially those with a cube shape while other varieties do best in containers particularly the quintessential circular topiaries that are often placed on either side of the doorway.
Top sculptured Buxus topiary to choose from
For smaller, individual ball shapes the Buxus sempervirens balls are the best type and probably the most commonly available.
If you want a single container with multiple stems that grow outward on top of which you will find individual balls, the multi-stem option is what you want but they are often more expensive.
The standard is the buxus sempervirens standards which grows multiple balls of topiaries at various intervals up a large stem.
Of course, you might want something a bit more unique than that. The Buxus sempervirens cones allow you to grow cone shapes while the spirals, as the name suggests, allows you to grow spirals in your containers.
Finally you can choose to grow your own from a small buxus bush and shape it into any shape you want but it does take many years and lots of patience.
How to grow box topiaries
The first consideration is where you will position and grow your buxus. The best place for a box plant is in well-drained soil that is substantially deep but sheltered from bad weather as they can suffer from leaf scorch from the sun as well as bad winters which is where correct pruning comes in.
Given the adaptability of the plants, you can pretty much grow them in any area as long as they don’t stay waterlogged as they don’t like having there feet wet.
They grow well in containers in John Innes potting compost
However, they do quite well in containers which gives you pretty much all the flexibility you could want for a plant.
In terms of the soil, Buxus plants will thrive in reasonable conditions but they prefer lime-based soil but are not too fussy. If you have acidic soil, this will serve the same purposes. If you grow them in pots we recommend using a John Innes potting compost as its soil-based and help retain moisture.
They thrive in full sun but will do well in partial shade
These plants succeed in full sun or partial shade. In the wild you’ll find them growing as an undershrub, thriving beneath deciduous trees which means they can do well in shaded condition.
That said they grow much faster if you give them a higher level of light which is why so many people opt to cultivate them in containers around the doorway.
Once established there drought tolerant but prefer moist soil
Native to Mediterranean climates they are able to withstand severe drought but only after they get established. They prefer moist, well-draining water conditions and do not tolerate waterlogged soil so mix in plenty of organic matter to improve drainage before planting in the ground.
As mentioned once they’re established they are much more tolerant to certain conditions but if you have a newly planted specimen you will have to give extra water during the hot or dry periods and attend to their needs especially when there are strong winds or cold conditions outside. Buxus grown in containers do not like to be dry and will start to show with drooping stems and need to be watered regularly, much more than plants in the ground.
Feeding with slow release fertiliser
In terms of food, it’s not necessary to feed a box plant if you’re growing it in your garden directly but if you were growing them in containers it can certainly help.
We recommend using a slow-release fertilizer are the most convenient way and can be added to the soil when you first plant them. If there is a shortage of nutrients it will simply slow down the growth of your box plant and you’ll notice the leaves turn copper or develop yellow tips.
At this point, you can always add fertilizer or a top dressing of compost as necessary and you’ll notice that the leaves go back to their uniform, green colour ones conditions are improved.
Trimmer new growth to form a compact dense habit
The plants naturally grow between April and June quite heavily so in the middle of summer you can trim away the new growth and if they’re in a container, you can easily move the container to a more accessible location to make this easy. If you want to increase the size, leaving a few cms of new growth each time you trim the plant will help it to increase the size and maintain a bushy appearance.
Replanting potted plants
If you are growing in containers you will likely have to replant your box plant in a new container every three to four years so that the size of the container can keep up with the size of the root ball. We recommend using John Innes potting compost. Once they are in a large pot where it is not practical to pot them on we recommend removing the top few inches of compost and adding some new compost and a dressing of slow-release fertiliser.
Pests and problems
It’s important to make sure that your plant has suitable conditions from the beginning. Most pests and diseases only become a problem when a plant is already susceptible, meaning, when a plant is already experiencing less-than-ideal conditions.
Pests will go after plants that are suffering from a lack of water or a lack of nutrients just the same as fungal diseases tend to attack when there’s inadequate light or air circulation. Making sure the plant has the right amount of light, soil, shelter, food, and water will help to prevent a great many issues.
That said, you may still notice small insects attacking the leaves from time to time in which case you can remove the affected leaves and spray the plant with a pesticide.
Fungal diseases will affect your box plant if you don’t have the right growing conditions which are best rectified by simply improving the conditions and removing any badly affected areas of the plant. Box blight can be an issue for some and can be quite serious.
Lack of nutrients
As mentioned, you might notice brown or yellow-tipped leaves which is usually reflective upon a lack of nutrients in which case you can add some fertilizer to help give them the nutrients they need.
Cold wind and frost damage
However, if you have had very cold winds or hard frosts, this could be a symptom but rest assured the leaves will turn green again when spring arrives and the weather gets warmer.