Buxus Species Guide - Bonsai-En

Buxus Species Guide

What Is Buxus?

 
Buxus is a genus of evergreen shrubs and small trees in the family Buxaceae. It is also commonly known as boxwood. The genus is native to Europe, Asia, and Africa, and contains around 70 species. The most common species used in gardening is Buxus sempervirens, also known as English boxwood. It is a versatile plant that is often used for hedging, topiary, and as a specimen plant in gardens. Buxus is known for its dense, green foliage and its ability to be shaped and pruned into various forms.
The leaves of Buxus are small, glossy, and dark green, and can be either oval or lance-shaped. The plant produces small, inconspicuous flowers in the spring, which are followed by small, green fruit.
Buxus is a versatile plant that can be used for hedging, topiary, and as a specimen plant in gardens. It is often used for low hedges, parterres, and knot gardens. Buxus is also a popular choice for topiary, which is the art of shaping and clipping plants into a specific form, such as animals, geometric shapes, and letters.
Buxus is a hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions and climates, making it a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers. However, it prefers well-drained soil and a cool, humid climate. Buxus is also tolerant of a wide range of pH levels and can grow in full sun to partial shade.
The plant can live for many years, and can be grown in a container or in the ground. It can be pruned to shape, and can be sheared to maintain a formal hedge. It is susceptible to a few pests and diseases, but generally considered easy to grow.
 
Buxus typically grows to a height of 3-5 feet (1-1.5 meters) and a width of 3-4 feet (1-1.2 meters). However, when grown as a hedge or topiary, it can be pruned and trained to maintain a smaller size. The bark of Buxus is smooth and grayish-brown in color, and can become slightly fissured with age. The wood is dense and fine-grained, and is often used for carving and turning.
 

Uses And Varieties

 
Buxus is a versatile plant that is often used for a variety of purposes in gardens and landscapes. Some of the most common uses of Buxus include:
  1. Hedging: Buxus is often used as a low hedge, providing a formal, evergreen boundary. It is particularly useful for creating a neat and tidy edge around a garden or lawn.
  2. Topiary: The plant's ability to be pruned and shaped into various forms makes it a popular choice for topiary. It can be shaped into animals, geometric shapes, and letters, adding an interesting and unique element to a garden or landscape.
  3. Parterres: Buxus can be used to create intricate geometric designs in gardens, such as parterres, which are formal gardens consisting of a pattern of beds, typically with low hedges or boxwood dividers.
  4. Knot gardens: Buxus can also be used to create knot gardens, which are a type of garden that features a pattern of low hedges, often clipped into geometric shapes, with paths or small beds of herbs or flowers within the pattern.
  5. Specimen plant: Buxus can also be grown as a specimen plant in gardens and landscapes, providing a green, evergreen focal point.
  6. Container gardening: Buxus can be grown in a container, making it a great option for patios, decks, and other small spaces.
These are some of the most popular uses of Buxus in gardens and landscapes, but it can also be used in many other ways, depending on the gardener's preferences and the specific setting.
 

There are several popular varieties of Buxus that are commonly used in gardening and landscaping:

  1. Buxus sempervirens (English boxwood): This is the most commonly used variety of Buxus in gardening. It is a slow-growing, evergreen shrub that can reach a height of 3-5 feet (1-1.5 meters) and a width of 3-4 feet (1-1.2 meters). It has a dense, green foliage and can be pruned and shaped into various forms.
  2. Buxus microphylla (Japanese boxwood): This is a smaller variety of Buxus, typically reaching a height of 2-3 feet (0.6-0.9 meters) and a width of 2-3 feet (0.6-0.9 meters). It has a dense, green foliage and can be pruned and shaped into various forms. It is more cold-hardy than Buxus sempervirens.
  3. Buxus sinica var. insularis (Korean boxwood): This is a slow-growing, evergreen shrub that can reach a height of 3-5 feet (1-1.5 meters) and a width of 3-4 feet (1-1.2 meters). It has a dense, green foliage and can be pruned and shaped into various forms. It is more heat-tolerant than Buxus sempervirens.
  4. Buxus harlandii (Chinese boxwood): This is a slow-growing, evergreen shrub that can reach a height of 3-5 feet (1-1.5 meters) and a width of 3-4 feet (1-1.2 meters). It has a dense, green foliage and can be pruned and shaped into various forms. It is more shade-tolerant than Buxus sempervirens.
These are just a few examples of popular varieties of Buxus, there are many more cultivars, hybrids and varieties available, each with its own characteristics and suitability for different climates and uses.
 

Maintenance and Care

 
Buxus is a relatively low-maintenance plant that can be grown in a wide range of soil conditions and climates. However, to keep it healthy and looking its best, it requires proper care and maintenance. Here are some tips for maintaining and caring for Buxus:
  1. Watering: Buxus prefers well-drained soil and should not be overwatered. Water the plant deeply and infrequently, rather than frequently and shallowly. Avoid getting water on the leaves, as this can lead to fungal diseases.
  2. Fertilizing: Feed Buxus with a balanced fertilizer in early spring, before new growth appears. A slow-release fertilizer or a liquid fertilizer can be used.
  3. Pruning: Buxus can be pruned and shaped to maintain a specific form. Prune regularly to maintain the desired shape and size. Avoid pruning in late fall or early winter, as this can stimulate new growth that may not have time to harden off before the cold weather.
  4. Pest and disease control: Buxus is susceptible to a few pests and diseases, such as boxwood leaf miner, boxwood mite, and box blight. Regularly inspect the plant for signs of infestation and treat accordingly.
  5. Light: Buxus can grow in full sun to partial shade, but it prefers partial shade. In hot climates, it is best to provide some afternoon shade.
  6. Climate: Buxus prefers cool, humid climates but can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and conditions. It can also be grown in a container, which can be moved indoors or to a protected location during extreme weather conditions.
By following these tips and providing the right care, Buxus can thrive in gardens and landscapes for many years.
 

Buxus As Bonsai

 
Buxus is a popular choice for bonsai due to its small leaves, dense foliage, and ability to be shaped and pruned into various forms. However, not all Buxus varieties are suitable for bonsai. Here are a few Buxus varieties that are considered suitable for bonsai:
  1. Buxus sempervirens (English boxwood): This is a versatile variety that is commonly used for bonsai. It is a slow-growing, evergreen shrub that can be shaped and pruned into various forms.
  2. Buxus microphylla (Japanese boxwood): This is a smaller variety of Buxus that is also suitable for bonsai. It is a slow-growing, evergreen shrub that can be shaped and pruned into various forms. It is more cold-hardy than Buxus sempervirens.
  3. Buxus sinica var. insularis (Korean boxwood): This variety is also suitable for bonsai. It is a slow-growing, evergreen shrub that can be shaped and pruned into various forms. It is more heat-tolerant than Buxus sempervirens.
  4. Buxus harlandii (Chinese boxwood): This variety is also suitable for bonsai. It is a slow-growing, evergreen shrub that can be shaped and pruned into various forms. It is more shade-tolerant than Buxus sempervirens.
It is important to select a healthy and vigorous specimen as the starting point, and to keep in mind that the bonsai style and design will depend on the variety of Buxus selected, and also the shape, size, and age of the plant.
 

Here are some techniques that can be used to train and shape Buxus bonsai:

  1. Pruning: Pruning is the most important technique for shaping Buxus bonsai. Regular pruning helps to maintain the desired shape and size of the bonsai. Prune back new growth to encourage bushier growth and remove any unwanted branches.
  2. Wiring: Wiring is a technique used to shape the branches and trunk of a bonsai. The Buxus branches are flexible and can be wired to create a desired shape. Be careful not to over-wire the branches, as this can cause damage.
  3. Defoliation: Defoliation is the process of removing leaves from a bonsai to promote back budding, and to reduce the overall leaf size. This technique can be used to create a more compact, smaller leafed bonsai.
  4. Repotting: Repotting is an important technique for maintaining the health of a bonsai. Buxus should be repotted every 2-3 years in early spring, before new growth appears. Use a well-draining bonsai soil mix and ensure that the root ball is not too big for the pot.
  5. Protection: Buxus is susceptible to winter damage, so it's important to protect it from frost and cold winds. If grown outside, it should be placed in a protected location or covered with frost cloth during cold weather.
By using a combination of these techniques, a Buxus bonsai can be trained and shaped into a beautiful, miniature tree that can be enjoyed for many years.
 

Growing Buxus as bonsai requires special considerations to ensure its health and longevity. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Watering: Buxus bonsai require regular watering, but the soil should be allowed to dry out slightly between watering. Over-watering can lead to root rot.
  2. Fertilizing: Feed Buxus bonsai with a balanced fertilizer in early spring, before new growth appears. A slow-release fertilizer or a liquid fertilizer can be used. Fertilize every 4-6 weeks during the growing season.
  3. Light: Buxus bonsai prefer partial shade, but can tolerate full sun. In hot climates, it's best to provide some afternoon shade to prevent leaf scorch.
  4. Pest and disease control: Buxus bonsai is susceptible to a few pests and diseases, such as boxwood leaf miner, boxwood mite, and box blight. Regularly inspect the plant for signs of infestation and treat accordingly.
  5. Repotting: Buxus bonsai should be repotted every 2-3 years in early spring, before new growth appears. Use a well-draining bonsai soil mix and ensure that the root ball is not too big for the pot.
  6. Pruning: Regular pruning is essential to maintain the desired shape and size of the Buxus bonsai. However, avoid pruning in late fall or early winter, as this can stimulate new growth that may not have time to harden off before the cold weather.
  7. Climate: Buxus bonsai prefers cool, humid climates but can tolerate a wide range of temperatures and conditions. It can also be grown indoors or in a greenhouse, but it needs proper light and humidity levels.
By keeping these special considerations in mind, a Buxus bonsai can be grown and cared for successfully.
 

Common Problems Affecting Buxus

 
Buxus is a relatively hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions and climates. However, it is susceptible to a few pests and diseases that can affect its health and appearance. Here are some common problems affecting Buxus:
  1. Boxwood leaf miner: This is a common pest that can cause brown or yellow spots on the leaves of Buxus. The larvae of the leaf miner feed on the leaves, causing them to turn brown and die.
  2. Boxwood mite: This is another common pest that can affect Buxus. The mites feed on the sap of the plant, causing the leaves to turn yellow and die.
  3. Box blight: This is a fungal disease that can cause leaf spots, dieback, and cankers on Buxus. The fungus can spread quickly, and if left untreated, can cause significant damage to the plant.
  4. Winter damage: Buxus is susceptible to winter damage, especially in cold climates. Cold winds and frost can cause the leaves to turn brown and die.
  5. Overwatering: Buxus prefers well-drained soil and should not be overwatered. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which can cause the plant to wilt and die.
  6. Lack of sunlight: Buxus can grow in full sun to partial shade, but it prefers partial shade. In hot climates, it's best to provide some afternoon shade to prevent leaf scorch.
By recognizing these common problems and taking the necessary steps to address them, Buxus can be kept healthy and looking its best. Proper care, regular monitoring, and preventative measures can help prevent and control these issues.
 

To prevent and control the common pests and diseases that can affect Buxus, the following measures can be taken:

  1. Boxwood leaf miner: To prevent infestation, use a systemic insecticide. To control an infestation, prune out and destroy affected branches. Encourage natural predators such as ladybugs, lacewings, and parasitic wasps to control the pest population.
  2. Boxwood mite: To prevent infestation, use a horticultural oil or insecticidal soap. To control an infestation, use a miticide.
  3. Box blight: To prevent infection, avoid overhead watering, and avoid planting in poorly drained soil. To control an infection, prune and dispose of all infected branches and twigs. Use a copper-based fungicide as a preventive measure.
  4. Winter damage: To prevent winter damage, provide protection from cold winds and frost. Covering the plant with frost cloth or burlap can help protect it.
  5. Overwatering: To prevent overwatering, ensure that the soil is well-draining and allow the soil to dry out slightly between watering.
  6. Lack of sunlight: To prevent leaf scorch, provide partial shade in hot climates.
In general, regular monitoring, proper care, and preventative measures are your best chance for minimal problems.
 
I hope this encourages you to try a buxus of your own either in the garden, as hedging, or even as a Bonsai.