Buxus sempervirens

A Buxus topiary pyramid in the gardens at Reveley Lodge.
  • Common name: Box, Common box, European box, Boxwood
  • Type: Evergreen large shrub
  • Flowering: Small white green flowers in April/May.
  • Height and spread: Up to 5 m
  • Aspect: Suitable for most aspects, will tolerate deep shade, in full sun requires regular watering
  • Hardiness: Fully hardy 
  • Care: Easy

Grown as hedging and underplanting. Topiary specimens provide architectural and winter interest.

Want to find Buxus sempervirens at Reveley?  Look in the Mulberry tree beds to the rear of the main lawn, for topiary specimens.

Buxus sempervirens is an evergreen shrub/small tree, with small dark glossy green leaves which form a tight dense shrub.  Tiny, white green flowers appear in April and May.

Buxus is happy growing in most soil types, it needs adequate drainage but must not be allowed to dry out completely if planted in full sun.  Buxus is tolerant of deep shade and can be planted under trees.

Care should be taken when handling Buxus as the sap can be an irritant.

Topiary and hedge plants will need regular trimming from the end of May through to August.  Although the first trim of the year is better left until all risk of frost has passed to avoid any of the new young growth suffering from weather damage and leaf scorch if in full sun.  Topiary specimens do need light frequent pruning in order to keep the foliage dense, but if you can hold off until the new growth has hardened off a bit it is better for the overall health of the plant.  Mature specimens usually respond well to being cut back hard in late spring.

Pests and diseases:  Unfortunately, Buxus can be prone to several diseases, with Box Blight, a fungal disease, being the most damaging.  If you are concerned about a plant, or for further information about Box Blight the RHS website has a very comprehensive guide on how to identify it together with possible control methods. 

Buxus roots easily from semi ripe cuttings taken in summer.

Other varieties of Buxus include microphylla (small leaved box) Height 1 m (3 ft) Spread 1.5m (5 ft) has smaller leaves.  Variegated species include Buxus sempervirens ‘Elegans’ (silver variegated) and Buxus microphylla ‘Golden triumph’ (gold variegated).

Both the leaves and bark of the Buxus have been used in medicines and Homoeopathy since the 1600s.  Box wood is the heaviest wood in Britain and unable to float in water, just in case you were planning to build a raft.  And, if you have ever wondered why Box Hill is so called, it is because it is the home of the largest area of native box woodland in England.