Some Useful Tips About The Boxwood Hedge
If you're thinking about putting in a boxwood hedge, there's a little more to it than simply purchasing a number of boxwood plants and planting them in a nice row. There are a number of questions you might want to ask the person in the plant store or nursery who is helping you. If you simply ask for some boxwood plants, one question you'll likely be asked is - “What kind of boxwood?”
There's More Than A Single Species - If the nursery should have only one variety on hand, and you purchases a number of the plants for your hedge, you may end up with a hedge that isn't quite what you had planned on, or were expecting. Before purchasing any boxwood plants, it would pay to try to find out the name of the species of boxwood you've seen somewhere, and is the species you think you want. If your neighbor has such a hedge, ask him which species of boxwood he planted, assuming of course he knows, or can remember.
There Are Many Different Species - You might be told that some hedges are American boxwood and the others are English boxwood. There are a great many people who believe that those are the only two species of boxwood on the market, or the only two species suitable for a boxwood hedge. The truth is, there are roughly 90 different species of boxwood, and well over 350 different cultivars. Some species, perhaps most of them, make fine hedges, but some may not. It would pay to look at photos of a few species, or look at several different hedges, in order to find one or two species you know will work for you. If the final choice ends up being “American” boxwood, that's OK. At least you'll know what you're getting. The American Boxwood Society has a website which contains a great deal of information about boxwood, including a listing of a number of species or cultivars which seem to be people's favorites as far as planning a boxwood hedge is concerned.
Purchase Or Propagate? - If you have a long hedge in mind, which can often be the case if the hedge is to be rather low growing and used for a border instead of a screen, you might have to purchase quite a number of plants. If that stretches you budget too far, you can always buy fewer plants and take stem cuttings to produce additional plants, which will always be identical to the parent plants. This approach may save money, but it will take time. Most boxwood species tend to grow rather slowly, and if you want a full-grown hedge right away, or within a year or two, you'd probably be better off purchasing mature boxwood plants.
Boxwood is reasonably disease and pest resistant. Pests which may create a problem include psyllid, mites, and leaf miner, all of which are reasonably easy to control and eradicate. An added bonus for those sharing their property with deer is that deer will shun the plant. They apparently find it to be toxic, and are smart enough not to nibble on a boxwood shrub or hedge.
Boxwood produces a very dense, evergreen hedge. In very cold climates, winter winds and frost may sometimes cause some discoloration in the foliage, but this tends to be temporary. Again, it may pay to look at some hedges that are already in place, and have been in place for some time. This should give you a clue as to how a certain species of boxwood will hold up in your area. Boxwood has a very long life span. Some species live for more than 300 years. It's quite possible that in some parts of the country, notably along the east coast, there are boxwood hedges that were planted before we even became a country!
Pruning Your Boxwood Hedge - Boxwood is a low-maintenance plant is most respects, with the exception of the need for occasional pruning. Most people who buy boxwood however, purchase the plants with pruning in mind. No one really wants a boxwood border plant or hedge that is allowed to grow wild. Pruning a boxwood shrub or hedge can be an art in itself. Pruning a long hedge in a straight line can be a challenge. Besides using a length of taut string, you'll want to step back every so often to see how you're progressing. The straighter the line, the more noticeable a small mistake becomes. Most of us can tolerate a little imperfection, but for some, getting the hedge shaped “just right” can seem like an exercise in futility. Gathering a little information on how to prune a boxwood is always a good idea. There are a few time-tested methods that make the job of pruning easier, as well a guaranteeing a decent result. Just don't let a mistake or two get you down. A boxwood hedge adds a great deal to the landscape, even if a few man-made imperfections are evident. The hedge is there to be enjoyed, so enjoy it.