Tips for Growing & Caring for Boxwoods

Tips for Growing & Caring for Boxwoods - roomfortuesday.comWhile I was in North Carolina a couple weeks ago, Emmett ditched his crutches for a shovel and I came home to a front lawn filled with new landscaping (a pretty big surprise). Obviously you already know, he tossed the doctor’s orders out the window as soon as I jetted off for my work trip, ha. In all seriousness, I’m glad he’s feeling well enough to work in the yard and the landscaping he planted looks incredible… it was definitely a fun welcome home project he crossed off our to-do list! After sharing some peeks of our fresh front yard, I received quite a few questions about the boxwoods he had planted. I thought it may be helpful to share our best tips for growing & caring for boxwoods. We’ve been planting and caring for boxwoods for over a decade- since the beginning of our homeownership journey. We planted them at our first home, then again at our second, and now we have a beautiful selection at our current home. We’ve landscaped in different zones & climates, and have found what works best to keep these plants thriving, growing, and looking beautiful. Click through for some quick tips…

Tips for Growing & Caring for Boxwoods - roomfortuesday.comBefore I dive in… there were a couple key questions I wanted to answer first. Our current gardening zone ranges from 6-7, but boxwoods do best in zones 3-9 (especially thriving in zones 6-8)… making them ideal for multiple climates. The type of boxwoods we recently planted are called Winter Gems, but there are over 90 species of boxwoods, so it’s definitely worth chatting with your local gardening or landscaping center for recommendations on what works best for your location. Winter Gems can handle lots of sun and are also tolerant to the amount of snowfall we receive (they’re hardy), which is why we landed on that particular species, given our extreme climate. We have some potted ones that have done really well for us these past few years…

Tips for Growing & Caring for Boxwoods - roomfortuesday.comWhen I think of boxwoods, I think of traditional landscaping, Southern landscaping, English landscaping, hedges, topiaries, and structure. Which is exactly what we’re going for in terms of landscaping, to match our Georgian colonial home. Ready to dive in?


Boxwoods are tolerate to most neutral soil types (pH between 6.5 and 7.5), but one thing that is imperative when it comes to planting… good drainage. That means you’ll need to choose a good location! Boxwoods are susceptible to root diseases and rot, which means adequate drainage is necessary. Avoid planting them in wet or low-lying areas.

Tips for Growing & Caring for Boxwoods - roomfortuesday.comPlanting boxwoods in a good location means they’ll be healthy and easy to maintain. Look for a well draining area in full sun to part shade conditions. If you’re in a really hot climate, afternoon shade can work to your advantage. This also depends on what species you have, so read the tag carefully or double check with your local garden center for tips! Some of the prettiest boxwoods I’ve seen, live at my friend Jackie’s house in Ohio (pictured below)– they do such an amazing job with them…

Tips for Growing & Caring for Boxwoods - roomfortuesday.comMulch is another key component to planting boxwoods. Apply a generous layer of mulch (1-3 inches) around your boxwoods to help lock in soil moisture and provide protection. This will keep the roots nice and insulated.


Boxwoods make excellent container plants- they add beautiful texture, color, and a sculptural element that can easily be moved around. Opt for a container that is as wide as the boxwood is tall. If your boxwood is eight inches, you’ll need a pot that is eight inches in diameter. As it grows, you’ll need to transplant it to a larger pot. Regular potting soil typically works well for container boxwoods.

Tips for Growing & Caring for Boxwoods -


Boxwoods require regular watering…. if you receive less than one inch of rainfall per week, you should definitely consider setting up irrigation, a soaker hose, or plan to water each boxwood by hand. Ours are set up with a sprinkler system. Continue watering your boxwoods prior to freezing temperatures, then you’ll need to winterize them (keep scrolling for that step)!

Tips for Growing & Caring for Boxwoods - roomfortuesday.comIf you have potted boxwoods, set a reminder to water those plants as well! Those are often the ones that are forgotten- and they require a bit more water, thanks to nicely draining pots.


Fertilizing isn’t always necessary for boxwoods, but if your soil is deficient in certain nutrients or the pH level is off, you may want to consider fertilizer. Boxwoods are also prone to nitrogen deficiency, so if you notice leaves that are beginning to yellow or leaf fall out- it may be wise to perform a soil test. When should you fertilize? Early spring… apply your preferred fertilizer around the base of the plant. We prefer to use these tablets! We just discovered them and they work really well.

Tips for Growing & Caring for Boxwoods -


Pruning your boxwoods is a necessary step because it improves air circulation, promotes growth, and enhances their shape for a better look. You should plan to prune once a year. Many people recommend pruning in late fall or early winter, but for our Winter Gem species, they actually do best with early spring pruning. This is another excellent question for your local garden center, as each species varies.

Tips for Growing & Caring for Boxwoods - roomfortuesday.comPrune in small increments, trimming no more than a third of the plant at a time… less is more! However, if your plant is in distress (yellowing leaves, disease, etc), more pruning may be necessary. You’ll want to cut out the entire section in hopes of saving the remainder of the plant.


Boxwoods can take on a yellow or orange hue in the winter from drying in the wind, frost, or intense sun from the summer season. I’ll link some products we use to prevent this below, but it’s always a good idea to “winterize” your boxwoods. Wrapping breathable burlap around your plants can help prevent this, as well as breakage due to the weight of snowfall during the winter months. This will help protect your plant and its shape- especially if it’s a new plant. Established boxwoods are typically fine, but it’s a great precaution to take. You’ll also want to keep the roots insulated with a thick (three inch) layer of mulch through the fall and winter months.

Tips for Growing & Caring for Boxwoods -


Emmett & I have a couple favorite products we use to help our boxwoods along…. especially since we live in a harsh, extreme climate. Among our favorites we’ve tried are:

  • WiltStop Plant Protector // a transparent protective coating that forms a flexible film on shrubs that holds moisture in, reducing water loss. It protects plants from drying out, drought, wind burn, intense sun, transplant shock, and salt damage.
  • TopBoxus Boxwood Restore & Protect // a fertilizer that includes nutrients for optimal growth & strength, producing healthy green, shiny leaves. 

Tips for Growing & Caring for Boxwoods - roomfortuesday.comI hope this post was helpful if you also have boxwoods or plan to plant them in the future! Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below. Here’s to a beautiful spring weekend ahead, friends!

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  1. Good morning! Yes to all the garden talk. I’m itching to visit the nurseries this weekend even though I have plenty of work to finish before I can plant. HA. Although I enjoy the classic look of boxwoods, I don’t love the notion of regular pruning. Do you do it more than once a season? Is the plan for your front walk to grow into a single hedge, or will they remain distinct shrubs like Jackie’s? Since we had a sprinkler system installed several years ago, our overall landscape is essentially established, but I’m intrigued by the idea of potted boxwoods. I’m wondering if I have space on the patio for a couple. They’d have to be large enough to withstand a small pack of crazy doodles. I know boxwoods thrive here because some previous owner planted one in the tiniest strip beside our driveway, and I hack away at it annually to prevent car scratches. That beast is probably a solid four feet tall. You may wonder why I don’t just tear it out. Laziness mostly. But also I am loathe to remove a large, nearly fuss-free plant. At the moment my focus needs to be on pulling more unsightly specimens! I finally started weeding last night. Yikes. Time to get all the beds whipped into shape. Cheers to gardening season and a weekend spent digging, trimming, and planting! Happy Pizza Friday, gang!💜

    1. I’m all about garden talk this time of year, too. This week I’m hoping to start planting our garden and I’d like to cross our window boxes off my list, too. I’m looking forward to all the veggies and florals! We only prune our boxwoods once per year. I’m not sure if we’ll let them grow into a hedge or shape each of them (like Jackie’s). We’ll probably see how they grow and evolve, then decide what looks best! I love our potted boxwoods in their vintage terra cotta containers. They’re my favorite and they do really well like that. You’re reminding me how much weeding I have to do- I haven’t even started. Ha! Hopefully this week. Our garden beds have seen better days. Hope your weekend was productive and relaxing, too! xo

  2. Haha! Emmett is a terrible patient but I’m so glad he is recovering and healing so quickly. I love boxwoods, they are a classic and elegant shrub. I remember Jacqueline’s home from a previous post and her garden is magical. Boxwood’s are stunning and this post is quite useful Sarah as they can go from a thing of beauty to completely dead very fast. And here in Ontario they are a very pricey so it can be an expensive lesson to learn.
    I finally wrapped up our spring garden cleanup and soil/mulch replenishing and everything looks so good. Spring finally arrived so I’m excited to get into container planting and even more excited to get the herbs going for BBQ season. Tuesday for pool opening. Woohoo! We have green velvet boxwoods behind a wall of stone that holds the pools waterfalls and they are gorgeous. They look particularly stunning with hydrangeas so I love pairing them together in a landscape. Great post Sarah! Happy pizza Friday 😎🍕🥂

    1. He really is, haha! Jackie’s home is the prettiest- I just love the architecture and her landscaping. I miss seeing that place! We need to go back for a visit someday soon. I love hearing that spring has arrived at your house and you’re getting the herbs going for BBQ season. We’ve been grilling a lot lately, too. And your pool is already opening?! That is so exciting! Your landscaping with the boxwoods and hydrangeas sounds stunning, Colleen. That’s my kind of outdoor moment. You’ll have to send me some photos this summer- I’d love to see them blooming :)

  3. This post couldn’t have been more timely! Good morning Sarah. I believe we also have winter gems- they do extremely well for our South facing home, so well that I’m having to incrementally trim this year to get them back to the height I want. The front yard is doing fabulous, but the backyard feels bare. Lately I’ve been pondering the idea of boxwood hedges to line the border of the patios- I think it could look incredible, but Jeff isn’t sold. To his credit, it would require more than just digging holes to plant. The information contained here gives me more to digest before pulling the trigger, and possibly a visit to the local nursery. (Yay!!) When do we get to see what it looks like all planted? And will you be keeping them as separate plants, or growing them into a hedge? Spring has shown glimpses here- but lately our weather is all over the place. We’ve had rain everyday for the last week, and this weekend is set to be in the 90’s. I can’t keep up, but cheers to gardening anyway, and a lovely pizza Friday ahead!

    1. Love to hear that, Lauren! Our Winter Gems are already growing. We came home from camping and I swear they’re 3-4″ larger. We did get some rain while we were away. When and if I get my instagram back, I’ll be sure to share a video or IG story (ugh). They look so good though! Maybe I’ll pull together my email list and start doing weekly newsletter. That’s probably more fun anyway! Something to look forward to. Hope you had a fun weekend!!