How to Grow and Care for Boxwood Shrubs
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How to Grow and Care for Boxwood Shrubs

Boxwood (Buxus) is a low-maintenance, versatile, evergreen shrub with over 90 species and 150 cultivators available. The most common types are American and English boxwoods; however, Japanese and Korean varieties are becoming increasingly popular.

Gardeners love boxwoods because they are highly adaptable to different garden spaces. With regular pruning and trimming, you can literally transform these shrubs into different shapes, whether you want a square, circle, or something totally outside the box(wood)!

Learn everything you need to know about how to grow and care for boxwood shrubs in your garden!

Materials Needed

gardening tools in a basket
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Before you start, here is what you will need to grow boxwood shrubs in your garden.

  • Gardening gloves
  • Boxwood shrub transplant
  • Watering can
  • Trowel
  • Fertilizer
  • Garden lime (optional)

How to Grow Boxwood Shrubs

The easiest way to grow boxwood shrubs is by purchasing a transplant from your local garden center. Boxwood shrubs are not typically grown from seed, as it can be a very long process. Boxwood seeds take up to six months to germinate, and they are slow to grow — often taking several years before they reach a large size. While you can start your plants this way, it’s best to grow from transplants if you don’t have the time to invest.

Follow the directions below on how to transplant your boxwood shrub outdoors.

Step One – Choose a Location

Boxwood shrub
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The first thing to consider when transplanting is choosing the right location. Boxwoods like up to six hours of sunlight a day; however, these shrubs also need some shade. Choose a site with up to 20 percent shade coverage, especially during the winter. Boxwoods prefer some afternoon shade to prevent their leaves from scalding in the summer heat.

Opt for a spot in your garden with well-draining soil with a pH level of 6.5 to 7.5. Test your soil before planting. Boxwood shrubs should be transplanted in the spring or early fall before the ground freezes. The ideal growing locations for this type of shrub are hardiness zones 6 to 9.

Step Two – Prepare the Soil

soil in a garden
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After you have chosen a location in your garden, it’s time to start prepping the soil for transplant. Clear out any rocks or debris from the area and loosen the soil using a trowel or shovel. From there, add organic compost or fertilizer, if needed, to increase soil health.

Step Three – Transplant Your Boxwood 

Planting boxwood shrub
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Start by digging a hole in the garden that is at least two to three times larger than the boxwood’s root ball. If you are transplanting multiple boxwoods, ensure adequate room between the shrubs (ideally at least 1 to 3 feet apart) depending on the size of the variety. Doing so ensures they don’t compete for root space and provides proper air circulation.

Next, place your boxwood in the hole and cover it with garden soil. Don’t plant too deep, as you want to avoid covering the top 1/8 of the boxwood’s root ball. The top should be sticking out of the soil slightly as, over time, the shrub will settle into the earth.

Step Four – Mulch and Water Thoroughly

boxwood shrubs planted in ground
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The last step is to give your transplant a good drink of water and mulch around the plant to keep the soil moist and help slow down water evaporation. Popular mulch choices include wood chips, bark, straw, or fallen leaves.

Pro Tip: Remember to mulch around your shrubs every spring and fall. Over time, mulch will break down and needs to be replaced with a fresh layer. In particular, mulch heavily in the fall to insulate the plant roots throughout the winter.

How to Care for Boxwood Shrubs

multiple boxwood shrubs growing in ground
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Once you have successfully transplanted your boxwood, follow these general care tips to keep your shrubs growing healthy and strong.

Watering Needs

When first planted and during the first year of growth, water your boxwoods regularly. During the spring and summer months, when they are actively growing, provide the shrubs with at least 1 inch of water weekly.

Once the plant is established, water only during periods of intense heat. In late fall, give your shrubs a thorough watering to help them through the winter months. Always do this before the ground freezes.


Fertilize your boxwood shrubs during the beginning of spring and fall with an all-purpose fertilizer. If you are unsure, test the soil to determine its pH level, and if necessary, add lime to raise it to 6.5 to 7.5.


Boxwood shrubs require regular pruning to shape the plant, manage its size, and encourage new growth. Pruning is best done during the early spring or late winter. Trim your shrub with sharp pruning shears and make sure to remove any dead or yellowing leaves.

Preventing Pests

When growing boxwoods, keep an eye out for pesky insects and pests that may damage your shrubs. The most common pests include leafminers, boxwood mites, and boxwood psyllids. If you suspect an infestation on your shrubs, try spraying the plant heavily with water to remove the insects. If this doesn’t work, you can remove them by hand or apply an insecticide soap.

Add a Boxwood Shrub to Your Garden

With regular care and pruning, boxwood shrubs make a great addition to your garden. They are fairly low-maintenance, withstand a variety of climates, and provide a touch of green foliage all year round. Try planting a few in the garden this spring!

Have you tried growing boxwood shrubs before? Share your experience down below.