How to Grow Boxwood Shrubs

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    • 1). Grow boxwood in a place with some protection from the hottest afternoon sun. Choose a place with good air circulation, because boxwood gives off a distinct ammonia odor in warm weather. Protect boxwood from north winds by finding a location on the south side of a structure. The soil should be well-drained. Avoid sites where the soil is waterlogged.

    • 2). Prepare the soil for planting boxwood by ensuring a soil pH between 5.5 and 7.5. Take a soil test to find out the soil pH, if necessary. Contact a county agricultural extension office for assistance with a soil test. Add the recommended amount of sulfur or lime to the soil to amend the soil pH as needed.

    • 3). Dig a hole, using a shovel, that is twice as wide as the root system of the boxwood to create loose soil in which the roots can expand. Make the hole deep enough so the boxwood is planted at the same depth it is planted in the container or previous location. Add water to the planting hole as needed to avoid creating air pockets around the root system.

    • 4). Spread mulch 2 to 3 inches deep around the base of the plant, extending beyond the canopy at least 12 inches. Avoid making the mulch layer more than 3 inches deep. Mulch conserves moisture and helps control weeds. Keep the mulch level constant at 3 inches. A layer of mulch deeper than 3 inches encourages shallow roots.

    • 5). Fertilize in fall or spring before new growth occurs, using a balanced fertilizer with a nutrient ratio of 10-10-10. Spread 1-1/2 cups per each 100 square feet over the soil under the boxwood, but do not allow the fertilizer to get closer than 6 inches from the trunk. Water the fertilizer into the soil after the application. Do not over-fertilize. Boxwoods are very sensitive to over-fertilization.

    • 6). Water boxwoods deeply during the driest part of the year, when rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Shallow watering encourages the growth of shallow roots that are easily damaged during a drought.

    • 7). Prune boxwoods as needed to keep the desired shape, using pruners. Drastic pruning will expose woody growth and potentially damage the plant, so begin a pruning program early. Allowing the bottom of the shrub to remain slightly wider than the top allows sunlight to reach the bottom limbs so lower growth remains thick and full.

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