A Beginners’ Guide to Growing Japanese Boxwood

Going back thousands of years ago, the Japanese boxwood shrub was a sign of luxury. Anyone who had this plant in their yard was likely someone of influence and wealth, such as royalty of members of the aristocracy. These days this particular species of boxwood shrub isn’t exactly far out of the average Joe or Jane’s reach but it is still a beautiful and elegant shrub that can certainly go a long way in setting your garden apart from your neighbors’.

The Japanese boxwood variety has a nice full spread with a somewhat rounded growth habit. This species has plenty of small oval-shaped leaves with a matte, medium green color finished off with a medium gloss. The leaves are neither extremely shiny nor dull, which makes the perfect combination for other garden plants or to use as a complimentary piece near a home or walkway. If you think this species of boxwood is a good match for your garden then keep reading to learn how you can purchase and successfully plant this terrific shrub.

Where and When to Buy Japanese Boxwood

Japanese boxwood can usually be purchased at local garden centers or nurseries. Depending on the area that you live in your local stores may or may not have this item in stock during the planting season; however if they do not then they might be willing to place a special order for this item. If you find that local garden nurseries seem a bit too costly then you might look towards home improvement centers like Lowe’s, which usually have a great selection of the more common landscaping plants—boxwood included. Other places to search for this plant include your local farmer’s market or garden clubs where other people from your community might be willing to divide and share their own boxwood plants with you for a great price or even for free!

The best time to buy your boxwood plant is just before you intend to plant it—you certainly don’t want this plant to have bare roots for very long. Try to plant it within a few days of uprooting it. If you purchased the plant and it is sitting in a temporary pot then you can likely wait a little longer before you put it in the ground. The best time to plant Japanese boxwood is in the autumn, preferably a few weeks before the first frost is due in your area. This will allow the boxwood some time to become established in the new home and for the roots to settle in before the winter comes.

Choosing a Location

Like many other varieties of boxwood shrub, the Japanese type is quite versatile when it comes to its environment. Although this plant does best in partial sunlight and even full shade, you can certainly plant it in an area where it will receive full sunlight. The Japanese boxwood produces deep roots so it’s important that the location in which you plant it does not allow water to pool. Good drainage is paramount to ensure that your boxwood won’t experience rotting of the roots. Because the Japanese boxwood is a medium-sized shrub you can expect it to reach a height of about six to eight feet with a spread of about six feet. This may sound quite large but you must take into account the trimming that will be done to shape the plant—much of the scraggly upper growth will be chopped away. The planting location should allow enough space to accommodate the boxwood at it mature height and spread. If you are going to grow more than one of these shrubs then the area should be large enough that you can space the young, new plants apart with at least three feet in between. By the times the shrubs have reached maturity they will create a nice privacy hedge without being too cramped or too thin.

How to Plant Boxwood

Japanese boxwood is easy to plant, whether you’re a novice or an expert in the garden. All you need is a shovel, a watering can, and gloves. Start out by removing your boxwood from its nursery or temporary pot. Use your fingertips to gently massage the roots and to pull away large clumps of soil. Once you’ve got a good idea of the size of the roots you can set about digging a hole about twice the size of the boxwood’s roots. Once the hole is ready go ahead and throw a few scoops of loose dirt back into the bottom of the hole then set the plant’s roots into the hole. If you look at the plant closely you should see a soil line on the main stem where it was previously planted. Use this line as a guide so you know how deep to plant the shrub. While holding the “soil line” even with the ground, fill in the rest of the hole with the remaining soil and pat the area firmly to create a little mound around the boxwood. Finish the job by giving the soil a deep watering.