Boxwood, Buxus sempervirens

shrub of the family Buxaceae

Origin: Europe, North Africa, Western Asia.
Habitat: the Boxwood fits to arid and rocky. It grows naturally in the Mediterranean and subalpine stages of the Alps and of the Apennines.
Lifespan: 600 years.
Hardiness: zone 7 (it supports cold until -17 °C or 1 °F).
Height: shrub of 5 m tall. The Boxwood has a very slow growth.
Shape: in irregular bowl.
Persistent foliage. Leaves opposite, leathery, oval or elliptic, entire margins, smooth, dark green and shiny on their upper surface, yellowish green on the underside.
Yellow flowers, in March-April. They do not have corolla and are grouped in clusters axillaries (glomerules), formed by several male flowers and a female in 3 styles in the centre.
Fruits: capsules of 3 cm long, ending by horns. They open in September to liberate their seeds.
Legends and traditions: the Boxwood, because of its slow growth, its big longevity, and its persistent leaves, was a symbol of immortality. With its wood, the Greeks and the Romans made tablets to write. The Christians make bless boxwood branching, the Palm Sunday and keep it near a crucifix.
Uses: its very hard, yellow wood, fine-grained, is wanted for making pipes, musical instruments and engraving. A curative extract serves for cleaning the blood. The Boxwood is planted in the "French-style" gardens because it is tolerant to pruning and in art topiary, its growth is slow and its persistent foliage assures a continuity of landscape throughout the year (what would not be case with a charming hedge). The Boxwood with borders, Buxus sempervirens ' Suffruticosus ', is a dwarf variety of the common Boxwood. It is used to make edges of 40 cm high, regularly pruned. It was made fashionable in classical times, although the drawing of the gardens remained inspired of embroidered costumes of the Middle Ages or Renaissance!

Advices of planting:
1 - When to plant: plant the boxwood in winter (from November till March). The best epoch to plant them is at the beginning of March, before the starting of the foliation.
2 - How to plant: prepare a planting hole broader than deep (superior from 30 to 40 cm of the future clod to be put). Break up the bottom of the hole with the pitchfork-spade. Trim the bottom, then having put your young plant, fill the hole up with the peaty soil unless your earth is naturally sour. The box has the particularity of having a superficial root system. The recovery will be facilitated in a loose soil.
3 - How to prune: the boxwood is easily to prune (as arborvitaes). It renews itself fast, to fill spaces up. Use clean and sharp shears (as always, to avoid transmitting an illness). Pruning should be done from the bottom up.
4 - How to form a boxwood into a ball: just prune lightly after planting to encourage the tuft to branch. Prune branches to 25/30 cm from the ground to release the trunk. Then cut again in June / July, starting a ball shape. The first years, cut the first time a new leaf in May / June and the shoot was in August / September, making sure to leave with each cut a few extra inches. Once obtained the desired size, continue each year to maintain the shape of your box by cutting several times a year from May
5 - How to form a dense border: choose a species with small leaves and arrange 8 to 10 feet per linear meter. If it's sempervirens boxwood takes about 5 feet per meter (one every 20 cm). Prune at the same rate as above to obtain the desired shape.
Leaves, barks and boxwood seeds contain alkaloids steroids.
Possible disturbances: vomiting, vertigo, shakings, spinal paralysis. Possibilities of dermatitis. Useful properties are sudorific, cholagogue and antirheumatic.


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