Common boxwood is a broadly rounded evergreen shrub or small tree. Native to Europe, Asia and Africa found in open woodlands and rocky hillsides. A popular ornamental evergreen used as hedges, borders and topiary. Named because wood was popular for making boxes and cabinets.
This plant has some cultivated varieties. Go to list of cultivars.
All common names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Mixed border,
- Medium shrub (5-8 feet),
- Small shrub (3-5 feet),
- Low-growing shrub (under 3 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
- Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Alkaline soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Dry sites,
- Road salt
Seasons of Interest:
- early winter,
- late winter
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
Size & form
A broadly rounded evergreen shrub reaching 3 to 4 feet high and wide
Tree & Plant Care
Best in part shade, but tolerant of full sun with adequate soil moisture. Plants in deep shade will be more open and loose.
Avoid windy sites.
Prune as needed, can be sheared and shaped in early spring. Avoid late summer pruning. New growth will not harden off for winter.
Remove heavy snow cover to avoid winter damage.
Disease, pests, and problems
Winter frost cracking during sudden temperature drop, volutella, phytophthora, boxwood psyllid, leafminer, mites.
All plant parts are poisonous.
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Deer and rabbit resistant
Native geographic location and habitat
Europe, Asia, and Africa
Bark color and texture
New growth is angular and green. Mature stems is tan to light brown.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Opposite. Small, 1/2 inches to 1 /12 inches oval to oblong leaves with smooth-margins.
Leaves are dark glossy green above and yellowish-green below. Leaves have a malodorous fragrance.
Winter sun can cause bronzing.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Early spring, pale green to yellow to creamy white flowers are inconspicuous in auxiliary clusters.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Fruit is a 1/3 inch, dehiscent capsule that matures to brown.
North Star® common boxwood (Buxus sempervirens 'Katerberg'): A densely globe-shaped habit reaching 2 to 2 1/2 feet high. requires little pruning to retain shape.
Schmidt common boxwood (Buxus sempervirens 'Schmidt'): An upright evergreen reaching 5-7 feet high and 4 feet wide.
Vardar Valley common boxwood (Buxus sempervirens 'Vardar Valley'): Low-growing, flat-topped mound reaching 2-3 feet high and 4 to 5 feet wide. Excellent dark bluish-green foliage.