Plants to Know and Grow: Boxwood

By April 27, 2021 4 Comments

Common box (Buxus sempervirens) is one of my favourite shrubs, both in my garden and also to use in designing. I’d never call it a showstopper, but it does give bones and structure to my landscape, even in winter.

An evergreen known for its small rounded, cupped leaves, I was delighted to discover how easily boxwood grows on PEI. In the wild, boxwood will grow to a height of 15 feet and has a unattractive shape best described as loose, gangly and drooping. But when clipped……..WOW!!! Box becomes a thick, vibrant and lustrous mass of rich green in any shape you choose.

Clipped boxwood is the basis of the traditional French garden, based on the creations of garden designer Andre Le Nostre. He used boxwood as short narrow hedges to create geometric edging that masses of flowers were planted in.

Today, box still makes a statement as a formal hedge- great along walkways or as foundation plantings, even growing well on the north side of houses. It is slow growing and easy to keep in bounds with twice a year shearing. My 15 year old shrubs have been pruned into 3’ x 3’ (1m x 1m).

As soon as box appear in the garden centre they can be planted into the ground. I always amend my soil with compost and fleck it with some bonemeal, water it in well and then water it heavily every other day for the first 3 weeks. I also recommend wrapping them in burlap for the first two winters to prevent them from browning off.

The shrub itself will lill tell you when it’s time for a haircut. When it starts to look ratty gear it back to just above the darker green old growth. Always leave a `fuzz’ of bright new growth on the pant for health and vitality.

Boxwood is a versatile, long lived, easily maintained shrub that offers balance, structure and control in the garden. And best of all, they’re easy to grow on PEI!
Common Boxwood
Zone 5-9

Full sun to full shade


Garth Davey, April 2021

Email Garth @

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • John says:

    I live in the water does salt spray hurt boxwood

  • KoolBreeze says:

    Yes, salt spray will hurt boxwood. Since you live on the water, I would suggest you look at gooseberry and roses. Also some spireas will tolerate some salt spray. Thanks for your question.

  • Susan says:

    What types of spireas….names please. I live very close to water and have alot of south west/west wind

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