General gardening topics

When and how to prune/trim Buxus

Last updated on May 9th, 2022

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Buxus plants, often referred to as Box plants, are evergreen and will remain green in colour throughout the year. Whether you are using your Buxus as a topiary feature, for example, as a spiral or a box ball, or using them to create a compact and dense hedge, it is important to keep the dense, tight shape for which they are so well known for.

To help your Buxus plants maintain their shape it is recommended that you only prune them using sharp hedging shears or an electric hedge trimmer. We personally recommend using specialist topiary shears if possible.

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 Buxus

With a box plant, it’s important that you prune them 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 letting the new growth become hardened off before trimming, but more on this below.

The best time to prune your Buxus is:

  1. Between the middle of May and August and as needed for younger and newly planted Buxus. This will help encourage growth and form the tight shapes they are 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 the cold wind, late frost damage, and hot weather which can burn the leaves. We recommend pruning later when the foliage has had a chance to really harden off.

What do I need?

For pruning, you need a pair of sharpened and sanitised blades. You will also need something to properly sanitise the blades between moving from one plant to another in order to minimise 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 sanitising mixture or using single-use alcohol wipes.

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

Box plants are particularly susceptible to things like box rust and fungal diseases, but only if they have an open wound. These wounds come 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 try and cut the same area more than once, thus leaving a wound.

Read next: The best topiary shears reviewed

Read next: How to plant and grow Buxus plants


How to prune a Hedge

Once you have everything to hand, it’s time to start pruning. These plants can be wonderful dense plants and this 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 time and practice to perfect it, so don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time.


How to prune a Buxus Topiary such as spirals and box 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 them 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 practicing and is a skill you will learn over time.

Last update on 2022-03-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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