Common boxwood is an evergreen shrub or a small tree with small, evergreen leaves and a dense, rounded canopy. It is the classic hedge and topiary plant that has been used for hundreds of years in European gardens for a formal appearance. Buxus sempervirens is native primarily to open woodlands and rocky hillsides in southern Europe, northern Africa and western Asia. It typically matures in a shrubby form to 5-15' tall, but may grow as a tree to as much as 20-30' tall. Small, elliptic to oval to oblong leaves (1/2" to 1 1/2" long) are simple, opposite, smooth-margined and evergreen. Leaves are dark glossy green above and yellowish-green below. Inconspicuous, apetalous flowers in axillary clusters are pale green to yellow to creamy white. Flowers appear in April and May. Fruit is a dehiscent capsule (to 1/3" long) that matures to brown. Common name of boxwood is in reference to the prior use of the wood to make boxes. Another theory on common name is that the name is in reference to young plant stems which are quadrangular (square box cross section). Buxus sempervirens is typically grown in evenly moist, well-drained loams (e.g., sand-clay mixture) in full sun to part shade. Plants will grow well in a variety of part shade situations, including open sun-dappled conditions or light shade with several hours of morning sun or early afternoon sun. Uses. Specimen/accent, hedge, mass, formal gardens, topiary. Foundations. Bonsai. Hardy in zones 5-8.
Growing Instructions for the Common Boxwood
The seeds have a period of dormancy. They can be planted outdoors in the fall or winter for spring germination or they can be cold stratified to simulate winter conditions and to break their dormancy at any time of the year. 1. Scarify the seeds by nicking or sanding the seed coat. The seeds can be sanded with sandpaper, a nail file or an emery board. 2. Soak the seed in water for several hours. 3. Place the seeds in a plastic bag and seal it. Store the bag in a refrigerator for 4-6 weeks. 4. The seeds like moist, well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of half potting soil and half sand, perlite or vermiculite. Put the soil in a pot. Water the mixture so that it is moist but not wet. 5. Sow the seeds on the soil and cover them with a thin layer of soil. 6. Water the container and leave it to drain. The seeds germinate in 3-6 weeks. 7. The seedlings can be transplanted when they are a few inches tall.