Winter Gem Boxwood
Facts About The Winter Gem Boxwood
The Winter Gem boxwood is aptly named. As popular and lovely as they may be, most boxwood shrubs have a habit of having their shiny green foliage turn to a shade of bronze and even brown, during harsh winter months. This of course depends upon both the general region the shrub may have been planted in, in addition to its specific location. Cold and drying winter winds are normally responsible for this unfortunate change in color. The Winter Gem boxwood is an exception, at least when planted in those regions where it is known to be hardy. It maintains its green coloration throughout the four seasons. The Winter Gem boxwood still isn't necessarily a good choice in just any region, but as its planting range extends from USDA Zone 5 and up, it can be grown in most parts of the country.
Culture - The Winter Gem is a cultivar of the microphylla species of the Buxux family of shrubs and plants. It grows in full sun or partial shade, and usually to a height of between 2 and 3 feet. When planting several of these boxwood plants for a border or as a garden perimeter, a spacing of 3 to 4 feet between plants is generally recommended. The Winter Gem boxwood is grown for its foliage, and not for its blossoms, which are quite inconspicuous. The flowers are somewhat fragrant however when they do appear in mid-spring. The foliage is a lighter green and the leaves a bit more rounded than is the case with the typical boxwood, but the Winter Gem is a very attractive plant. It can be propagated by hardwood cuttings, the seeds being sterile, but is most always purchased in pots. Should you want to harvest the leaves, don't. All parts of the Winter Gem boxwood are poisonous.
The Winter Gem is an ideal shrub for a formal garden. It takes to shearing and pruning quite well, and can be a landscaping artist's delight. A number of these shrubs, appropriately spaced, can make reasonably complicated patterns, so-called knot patterns, which, when viewed from a height, can be quite outstanding in appearance. If you just have a single plant, placed in the location of your choosing, the plant won't disappoint either.
Pests - As far as pests and diseases are concerned, the Winter Gem boxwood faces the same problems as do most other boxwood species or cultivars. The boxwood psyllid, leaf mite, and leaf minor cause the most problems, as does root rot. For the most part though, depending upon where the shrub is located, and how well it is cared for, these problems seldom occur. The Winter Gem is not a high maintenance plant, though it does require sufficient watering initially to enable it to grow a strong root system.
Planting, Fertilizing, And Pruning - When planting the Winter Gem boxwood, simply follow directions given for planting most types of shrubs, separating the roots very slightly when removing the plant from its pot, and watering generously at first, and then less and less as the plant matures. Most shrubs, and the boxwood is no exception, do not particularly benefit from fertilizing the first year they are in the ground. It is far more important to mix some compost into the planting soil, and give the shrub sufficient mulch to help keep the soil moist. After the first year, the boxwood may profit from an application of slow-release fertilizer, usually applied in the spring.
Summer is the best time for pruning. The Winter Gem boxwood usually fills back in nicely if you've made a small mistake, or there has been some die-off on a branch or two. The same does not hold true for many evergreen plants, so you can feel free to prune away to your heart's content.