Boxwood shrubs are versatile greens that will bring some luscious color to your garden all through the year. For every winter landscape, these shrubs will add just the right greenery to the dreary winter months. If you prune and care for your boxwood shrubs, a fertilizer will come in handy.
Whether the garden is formal or informal, you can leave these shrubs be or turn them into interesting geometrical forms. A balanced fertilizer can promote foliage growth in the spring. It can similarly encourage root growth during the winters.
Read ahead as we list out the best fertilizer for boxwoods options for you. We have discussed these fertilizers in detail so that you know just how to care for your plants.
What Should You Know About Fertilizing Boxwoods?
If you have boxwoods in your garden, you can nurture and care for them so that the foliage and root growth are promoted. There are specific ways in which you should go about fertilizing boxwoods. Here are some key aspects of boxwoods and their fertilization addressed.
How to Feed Boxwood
You can feed and nurture your boxwoods using a good fertilizer. You should look for a balanced fertilizer. Look for a granular form of urea fertilizer. For this, an N-P-K ratio of 10-6-4 is preferred.
If your plant is healthy, even cottonseed meal and aged manure is a great option. The idea is simply to ensure that your boxwoods have enough nitrogen for nutrition. You will also be able to notice if your boxwood shrubs lack nitrogen.
This may appear as the yellowing of the lower ends of the shrub’s leaves. This is when you should opt for fertilizer and our top picks listed above should work well in this case. Before you figure out how you can feed your box feed, you will have to figure out the status of your soil.
To do this, first conduct a soil analysis. You can contact your local cooperative extension office for the same. If you find any nutrients lacking in your soil, a good fertilizer can help correct this. Here’s how you can feed your boxwoods once you find the pH level of your soil.
Applying Fertilizer to Boxwood
Here is how you can go ahead and apply fertilizer to your boxwood.
You will first have to identify the area around your root growth. This is the diameter of the plant. This will spread a few feet from the lower area of the plant. This is because the roots of your boxwoods will likely extend further away from the visible roots you see atop.
Now, look at the package of the fertilizer you have chosen. Some may come with a feeder and others may be tablets. Depending on the type of fertilizer you have chosen, follow specific instructions to apply it.
Choose the lowest possible amount to first apply to your plants. This makes for a good trial run. Once you establish that the fertilizer is beneficial, and not harmful to your plants, you can add more of it until you are satisfied and so long as your plant is healthy.
You may also be using a drip system for your shrubs. This is designed to keep your plants watered well. In this case, apply the fertilizer near the drip line. This is because the drip line is just where the roots of your plant have grown.
Prevent Over Fertilization
Hence, you can take advantage of the watering system and use it to make sure that the fertilizer reaches the roots of the plant. Do note that it is possible to over-fertilize boxwoods. To prevent this, don’t apply the fertilizer directly to the roots of your boxwoods.
To know if you have over-fertilized the boxwoods, look at their foliage. If you see this green part turning brown, you would have over-fertilized it. This is called fertilizer burn.
To prevent over-fertilization, you can spread the particles around the plant and apply the fertilizer on top of the damp mulch. You may also want to note that the roots of boxwoods are shallow. Hence, you won’t need deep root fertilization to fertilize your boxwoods.
Feeding Varieties of Boxwood Shrubs
Depending on the kind of boxwood shrubs, there are different ways in which you can feed and care for them. Here’s how you can go ahead and feed the different kinds of boxwood shrubs.
Boxwood Shrubs in Ground
Boxwoods that are in-ground should be sheared carefully and on time. These shrubs will benefit especially from fertilization. It is a good idea to fertilize these shrubs during springtime. You can use shrub and tree food that is tagged as slow-release.
For deep greening, your shrubs, look for food that contains sulfur or iron. You can also opt for a fertilizer that uses natural and organic ingredients. This will keep any unhealthy chemicals away from your plants.
Boxwoods in Containers
You may also have boxwood shrubs that are planted in planters or pots. It could be any container of your choice. For such shrubs, it is a good idea to pick out slow-release granular fertilizers.
These are also water-soluble fertilizers.
When to Feed Boxwoods
The right time to fertilize your boxwoods is during spring. This is because fertilizing during this season promotes the green growth of this shrub. This is especially true if your boxwood shrub grows in the ground.
Avoid adding fertilizer during the peak summer heat. It is also a good idea to avoid it during late fall and winter. You will want to avoid feeding boxwoods at a time when new growth can prove damaging. To do this, stop fertilizing your plants about two weeks before the frost sets in your area.
What are the Requirements of Boxwood Fertilizer?
There are a few requirements when it comes to picking the right fertilizer for your boxwood shrubs. In general, a fertilizer with a 10-6-4 N-P-K ratio is preferred, as discussed above. You will have to tweak the ratio if the soil in which your boxwoods are growing has any deficits.
You may also want to look for magnesium in the fertilizer. Magnesium has the property of making the plant’s foliage lush and green. For the right trace elements, look for seaweed calcium in the fertilizer you pick.
When you choose a fertilizer for your boxwoods, also pay attention to the kind you buy. It is a good idea to pick out granular fertilizer. You can then sprinkle just the right amount specified on the packaging around the base of the shrubs that are planted.
Here are some of the features you should pay attention to when you buy a boxwood fertilizer.
The fertilizer you choose should have the right minerals to make your boxwood shrubs stronger. This includes minerals like iron which will maintain the color of your shrubs. Iron will keep your plant from suffering from any damage.
You can also look at your fertilizer to see any additional minerals that will contribute to plant health.
Can Repel Insects
If your fertilizer can also double up as an insect repellant, your job is made that much easier. You won’t have to look for two different products for the same plant. The insect repellant in your fertilizer can keep away any problematic larvae of different bugs in your garden.
These bugs will absorb the nutrients from your fertilizer once it is applied. If the fertilizer also has an insect repellant, it should make the job easy.
Protection from Blight
If your fertilizer also comes with ingredients that treat Boxwood Blight, there is nothing like it. Blight can ruin your entire landscape if you don’t take action on time. By doubling up as an anti-Blight product, your fertilizer can make your work easy.
Your fertilizer may have the added benefit of curing your plant of Boxwood Blight if it has any.
You should opt for a durable fertilizer. This will ensure that your boxwoods have the right nutrients for a long time. For this reason, slow-release fertilizer will gradually release nutrients so that they reach your boxwoods over time.
A durable fertilizer is also one that adds the most value to your money. You won’t have to replace it too often. Hence, it will end up being an affordable option for you.
The Best Fertilizer N-P-K Ratio for Boxwoods
As you look at the right fertilizer, you will find many options that will have a number associated with them. This is called the N-P-K ratio. These represent three macronutrients that are used by plants.
In the abbreviation, N stands for nitrogen, P for phosphorous, and K for potassium. The higher the number of each in the ratio, the more concentrated the element is. This is important as it indicates how much of the fertilizer should be applied to each plant.
For boxwood, the concentration of nitrogen is important. This ensures that the leaves on the boxwood shrub grow well. Phosphorous is also important in a lower concentration. This element ensures that the roots grow well.
Potassium is required in boxwood plants in a lesser capacity. It helps the plant perform its overall functions efficiently. Do note that testing your soil will help you determine the right N-P-K ratio that is compatible with the boxwoods and the corresponding soil.
Soil pH Level for Boxwoods
As discussed, the pH level of the soil is crucial when you pick a fertilizer to help grow your boxwoods. Look for a fertilizer with acidic soil where the pH of the soil is between 6.5 and 7.0 ideally.
If the pH of the soil is more, you can add iron sulfate to reduce it. If you find that it is less, you can use dolomitic lime to increase it. Look for the manufacturer’s instructions which will guide you as to how you can increase or decrease the pH of your soil.
Pay attention to the nutrients in your soil and look for any deficiencies. You can even opt for an N-P-K value of 10-10-10 for your boxwood shrubs.
Tips on Fertilizing Boxwoods
There are a few things you should know about boxwoods that will help you fertilize them better. Of these, the first is the variety of boxwood. The most common variety of the boxwood shrub is the Buxus sempervirens.
However, you will be able to commercially find 148 varieties and cultivars of the plants. The most common boxwood may be anywhere between 5 to 15 feet tall. Fertilizer should be used accordingly as well.
When you fertilize your boxwoods shrubs, you should that this helps it maintain its vigor. Here’s how you can identify any issues in your plant to promptly correct them.
Noticing Nitrogen Deficiency
One of the main lacks that boxwoods suffer from is nitrogen deficiency. This is visible through the yellowing leaves on the plant. You will find this more prominently on older leaves. This may also cause the leaves to become thinner and grow smaller.
In this case, a fertilizer with the right N-P-K ratio, as discussed above, can bring your plant up to date on its nitrogen supplies. Another way in which you can identify this is falling leaves. Falling leaves often come across as a sign of nitrogen deficiency.
Do note that leaves on a boxwood shrub naturally fall off after about three years. If you notice them fall earlier, this may be because of a nitrogen deficiency.
Use Fertilizer to Irrigate
When you irrigate your shrubs, you can make the best of this by fertilizing it as well. However, you should avoid this if it is raining.
Prep Your Soil
It is important to prep your soil for various things before you add the fertilizer. Pay attention to the pH of the soil to ensure that it is acidic. You may also want to look into the drainage of the soil. This has been discussed in detail below.
Add the fertilizer following this for the best results.
Fertilizing Boxwoods for Fragrance
If you want your boxwoods to flower and give a pleasant fragrance, opt for the Korean boxwood. This grows only to about 2 to 2 ½ feet tall. For the best flowers and fragrance, fertilize these shrubs well.
The Best Fertilizer for Boxwoods
You now know that the right fertilizer can nurture and help your boxwoods grow well. Read ahead to find out our top fertilizer for boxwoods picks and a corresponding review for each.
1. Scotts Continuous Release Evergreen Flowering Tree and Shrub Fertilizer
N-P-K ratio: 11-7-7
This fertilizer is a great option for all of your evergreen shrubs. These include boxwoods, among other plants and shrubs like hydrangeas and magnolia. These form part of those plants that love acid.
Your boxwoods will be nurtured and grow better when you use this fertilizer. It encourages quick and vigorous root growth and also keeps the foliage lush and growing. You can also go ahead and use it on azaleas, rhododendrons, and camellias.
This fertilizer is also extremely easy to use. You just have to apply it to the soil directly. You can now just wait and watch it do its work on your plant. Make sure to use the instructions on the pack.
When used the right way, you won’t have to worry about it burning any parts of your plant. This fertilizer is recommended for your boxwoods.
- Improves foliage of boxwoods
- Easy to use
- Can be applied directly to the soil
- Won’t burn plants during use
- Difficult to mix into the soil with rocks
2. Miracle-Gro Tree & Shrub Plant Food Spikes
With this fertilizer, you can expect your boxwoods to be lush and green. It is specifically made for trees and shrubs to lend vibrant color and lush foliage. It is made of natural ingredients and you won’t have to worry about any harmful effects of this fertilizer.
It is a great option for all of your evergreen plants and works well on boxwoods. It is a good option for acid-loving plants. It comes with spikes that are extremely easy to use. These release nutrients into the root zone so that it keeps your trees strong and shrubs growing.
The fertilizer hence reaches your boxwoods just where it matters most. You can go ahead and use it once every season, be it spring or fall. It will help your young boxwoods grow well so that they have the right structure and color as they grow.
- Comes with an easy to use spike for feeding
- Keeps your boxwoods lush
- Provides nutrition directly to roots
- Uses natural ingredients
- Too much may be harmful to plants
3. TOPBUXUS Boxwood Restore & Protect Mix
N-P-K ratio: 8-0-10
This fertilizer is a great option for your boxwood shrubs. When you feed this to your boxwoods, they will keep your shrubs away from boxwood blight. Boxwood blight is a type of fungus that can affect the part of the plant that is above the ground.
This fertilizer product comes in 10 tablets. These are effervescent and extremely easy to use. They are good alternatives to other fungicides. The best part is that this product is an eco-friendly option. It is also free from any pollinators.
If your hedge is about 2-feet high and 2-feet wide, you would need 4 tablets a month for the same. You can tweak the number by adding more as the dimensions increase and pick one that works for your plants.
For your boxwoods, this will last you from 6 to 10 weeks.
- Effective on boxwood blight
- Comes as tablets that are easy to dissolve
- Makes boxwoods strong and healthy in as little as 4 applications
- Makes hedges greener
- May not work well at later stages for damaged plants
4. Voluntary Purchasing Group Fertilome 10864 Tree and Shrub Food
N-P-K ratio: 19-8-10
This is a scientifically formulated food for your trees and boxwoods that has a penetrating action that will keep them well nurtured. It works in such a way that the food is moved directly to the feeder roots.
The best part is that you won’t have to dig any holes to get this fertilizer mixed and working. This is excellent for trees, shrubs, and shade trees. It is a good option for nut greens and especially for evergreens like boxwoods.
You just have to apply it around the tree or shrubs. This is why you can avoid digging holes when you use this fertilizer. For every square yard of soil, you will have to use about 1/2 cup of the fertilizer for best results.
- Plants grow well with this product
- Easy to use
- Eliminates the need for digging
- Penetrating action to keep boxwoods nurtured
- On the expensive side
- May kill neighboring grass
Caring for Your Boxwood Shrubs
You now know how you can go ahead and feed your boxwoods. You also know which products you can pick for the best results. Read ahead to find out how you can care for your boxwoods to keep them in good shape.
Pick the Right Location for Your Boxwoods
To keep the health of your boxwoods, it is important to plant them in a healthy location. Think about the weather around your garden and what the conditions are. Don’t just pay attention to the present but to the conditions throughout the year.
Ask yourself if the summers in your garden are dry and hot and if the winters are calm or windy. This should give you a key as to the best location for your plant. Place your boxwood in an area where it can take advantage of full sunlight. A partly shaded area will also do.
You will have to take care of two things. Firstly, plant your boxwoods in the afternoon shade if the climate is hot. You may also want to place it in a location where it can be protected from winds. This is especially true if your garden sees harsh and cold winds during the winter.
These can potentially be damaging to the plant. Hence, the right location can keep them thriving.
Winter Care for Your Boxwoods
Your boxwoods are especially susceptible during the winters. Hence, it is crucial to pay them special attention and care for them during the winter months. Winters will bring frost, intense sun, and dry winds. This may cause the bronzing of your plants.
This means that the foliage on your boxwoods is likely to become yellow-green or reddish-brown. When you first plant them, create a plant site that offers protection to them. If not, you can always opt for windbreaks or burlap wraps.
This should keep them protected during harsh winters. You can also water the plants before the freezing temperatures set in. Make sure to also maintain a three-inch layer of mulch through the fall and winter months.
With this, the shrubs should be insulated and protected from bronzing.
Drain the Boxwoods Well
Boxwoods are rather hardy plants. They can tolerate various soil kinds. Whether they are acidic or alkaline, or infertile or rich, boxwoods find a way to survive. They do prefer acidic soils but grow the best when they are drained well.
What you could do to maintain optimal drainage is to place it on a berm or add organic matter to the soil. A good idea is to also avoid panting your boxwoods shrubs in any low-lying portions of the landscape.
These plants are also planted in containers at times. If that is in case, look for a container that can get rid of any excess drainage.
Prune Dead Branches of Boxwoods
Boxwood shrubs do need occasional pruning to clean out any twisted and dead branches. These can be harmful to the bush and timely pruning can keep them in check. You can go ahead and sheer the shrubs throughout the year.
It is best, however, to avoid late fall. You can use hand shears or even electric hedge clippers for removing most of the recent growth. The younger the plant, the more frequently it requires shearing.
During this time, pruning will encourage much better growth in the future. The growth will also be denser. However, avoid excessive pruning of the plant. This will make the bush grow back very dense, restricting sunlight from reaching the inner parts of the bush.
The idea is to prune the bushes just right and to get rid of any dead branches only. Severe pruning can have an effect of harming the boxwoods shrubs rather than maintaining it. When shearing, you may also want to avoid any rounded forms.
This can shade the interiors of the plants and result in reduced airflow. It will result in weakened branches as well. If your boxwood variety is large, it is a good idea to thin the shrubs rather than shearing them.
Pay attention to any of the plant material that may be damaged when you prune them. This is the best way to reduce disease.
Protect the Roots of Your Boxwoods Shrubs
By now, you know that boxwoods have a shallow root system. This can cause it to dry out easily. By planting the shrubs at the right depth, you will be preventing any damage to the boxwood shrubs.
You will want to ensure that the root ball is kept at a height of 1/8 inch above the soil surface. With this, you will see that the roots of the plants will settle well. Hence, they won’t go too deep either.
A mulch layer of about 2 to 3 inches is also necessary. This will help keep the roots of the plant cool. It will also keep the moisture in the soil intact. For the best results, make sure that this layered mulch is also maintained to about a foot beyond the boxwoods shrub’s canopy.
With this, your rake will also come in very handy. During the months of fall and spring, use your rake to move away from any materials that have fallen around the bush. These can be a point of thriving for diseased organisms.
When you do this, add a new layer of mulch to replace the material that is raked.
Watering Boxwood Shrubs
Yes, you will have to water boxwood shrubs for the best results. You should do this for new and young shrubs in their first year of growth. During the second year, you may still have to continue watering the plants.
It is because the roots of these shrubs are still growing and developing. You will have to take care to do this well when the weather is hot and dry. By the third year, you will find that these shrubs are hardy and resistant to drought.
You can now just begin to use a layer of mulch to cover the ground beneath the plant and slightly around it as well. You can water right at the base of the plant to conserve moisture. With this, your plant should be good to go.
Keeping Diseases and Pests Away
With your boxwood shrubs, a few pests can cause issues. These may be boxwood leaf miners, lesion nematodes, and mites. You will also find that scale insect and caterpillars create problems as well.
To keep these pests away, you will have to treat the plants with organic neem oil. You can also opt for an insecticidal spray for the same. Besides this, the leaves of your boxwood shrubs can be affected by Pythium root rot and canker.
In addition to this, there may also appear powdery mildew and leaf spots. Many plants are also susceptible to Boxwood Blight. However, many products on the market will help you fight these.
Keeping Boxwoods Away from Deer
You will be delighted to know that you will not have to put in the effort to make deer stay away from boxwoods. Further, they also make an excellent shield to keep your garden resistant to deer. It is because they contain an alkaloid that makes them toxic.
For deer, this comes as a pungent smell that causes them to steer away.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some of the most common questions about boxwoods answered for you.
1. Why Can I See the Leaves on My Boxwood Turn Yellow?
If the leaves on your boxwoods are turning yellow, this may be the result of a serious problem such as Phytophthora root rot. Other issues may include nematode infestation and leafminer. Spraying your plant with a copper fungicide in early spring can help.
2. What will be the lifespan of Boxwood?
A boxwood shrub will live for about 20 to 30 years in general. This also depends largely on the type and species of boxwood you have planted. They will live a long life if you fertilize them right, water them well, and keep them away from any diseases.
3. How Often Should Boxwood Shrubs Be Watered?
You will have to water your boxwood shrubs for the first 18 months up to 2 years in their life. During this period, you will have to water them once or twice every week. If you have rainfall in your area, you will have to calculate accordingly. Once the shrub is firmly rooted, mulch and moisture can alone keep them thriving.
4. Do Boxwoods Prefer Sun or Shade?
Boxwoods are rather hardy plants that can thrive well even in droughts. Hence, they do well in full sunlight. You can even place them in half shade. However, during the harsh winters, a half-shaded area may be a better option than full sunlight.
5. How Far Apart Should Boxwoods Be Planted?
You should place your boxwoods about 2 feet apart from each other when you plant them. This is the best option for the dwarf cultivars you will be planting. If you like, you can go ahead and plant some accompanying plants like thyme or sage between the plants.
6. Will Boxwoods Remain Green All Year?
Yes, boxwoods will remain green all year long as they are evergreen shrubs. They hence require very little maintenance as well. If you opt for Boxwood Wintergreens, you will see that these come with dark green leaves. These hold a bold color all through the year.
7. Should Boxwoods Be Covered in Winter?
Evergreen plants like boxwoods will tend to lose moisture from their leaves during the winter. Hence, they are vulnerable and may dry out in the freezing temperature. During this time, covering your plant with burlap can be an appropriate option.
We have curated a list of the best fertilizers for boxwoods for you. In addition to this, we have also included an extensive guide that will take you through what you should look for in a good fertilizer for your boxwood shrubs.
Boxwood shrubs can be a trusty addition to your garden that will remain with you for 20 years and more. Further, they can keep your garden free of deer and your plants safe.
By caring for them well, you will have healthy evergreen plants that will keep your garden through the seasons.
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.