General gardening topics

When and how to prune/trim Buxus

Last updated on September 24th, 2020

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If you have buxus which are often also referred to as box plants, while it will stay green all year it’s important to keep the dense, tight shape for which it is known whether you’re using it as a topiary feature such as a spiral or box ball or forming a compact and dense hedge. It’s important that you only prune with sharp hedge shears or an electric hedge trimmer but we recommend using specialist topiary shears if possible. If you have topiary we recommend using hedging shears to get the curves right.

Find what works best for you and your garden. Once you have the right tools it’s important to use the right process depending on the structure you wish to achieve.

When to prune box plants

With a box plant, it’s important that you prune at least once a year. There are two-time frames at two separate intervals during which you can prune your hedge.

If you want to maintain a very specific shape you can trim your Buxus four times per year to keep it dense and lush. However, we recommend trimming established Buxus once per year and let the new growth to become hardened off before trimming but more on this below.

The best time to prune is:

  1. Between the middle of May and August as needed for younger newly planted Buxus. This will help encourage growth and form the tight shapes there known for.
  2. Between the end of August and the beginning of September for established hedges and topiary to help reduce the risk of box blight and damage by cold wind, late frost damage and hot weather which can burn the leaves. We recommend pruning later as the foliage has a chance to really harden off.

What do I need?

For this you need sharpened, sanitized blades. You will also need something to properly sanitize the blades in between moving from one plant to another in order to minimize the potential risk of any disease such as box blight or pest problems being spread from one plant to another. Many gardeners recommend carrying around a bucket with a sanitizing mixture or using single-use alcohol wipes.

You will also need to bring a bucket of water close by because your box plants may admit a sticky sap which will need to be rinsed clean from the blades regularly to keep them cutting cleanly.

Box plants are particularly susceptible to things like box rust and fungal diseases only if they have an open wound and that wound comes from the trimming and pruning process which is why it is important to have very sharp tools so that you can make one clean cut without accidentally having to shop more than once, thus leaving a wound.

Read next: best topiary shears reviewed

Read next: How to plant and grow buxus plants

How to prune a hedge

Once you have everything, it’s time to start pruning. These plants can be wonderful dense plants which is why you should start by trimming the sides of your plants before making your way to the top.

In order to keep a perfectly straight line you want to keep your gardening shears at the same height as you continue to trim along the side or the top. Running the length of the hedge will take practice to perfect so don’t worry if you don’t get it just right the first time.

How to prune a Buxus topiary such as spirals and balls

If you have a topiary Buxus such as a cone, spiral or a ball you want to trim the sphere by starting at the top of the ball. You want to stand above it and then hold your gardening shears flush with the top so that you can more easily control the curves you create.

Walk along in a circular fashion as you trim so that you can maintain a good view of the shape that is developing. Just like good artwork you should regularly step away from the topiary so that you can view the shape from a distance to make sure things are proportional. Forming perfect shapes is more about practising and is a skill you learn over time.

Last update on 2022-01-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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