Box (Buxus sempervirens) is an attractive, flowering evergreen shrub or small tree which is a popular ornamental addition in many gardens. Box plants may also be referred to as common box, European box, or simply boxwood. It is native to western and southern Europe, northwest Africa, and southwest Asia. Today, Box can be found throughout many parts of the world, and is well adapted to conditions in the warmer regions of southern England, as this is part of its original habitat.
Some of the distinguishing characteristics of Box are its very fragrant flowers which lack petals and blend in with the foliage, and its small, green to yellow-green leaves. Depending on age and growing conditions, the plants can vary in height from 1-10 m tall, with trunk widths of 20-45 cm, and a foliage spread of 1.5-5 m across.
Box is frequently used in more formal gardens as a hedge or for topiaries, as it is a plant well-suited to close shearing. Young plants should be cut back by up to one-third in May to encourage lush growth, with additional tree trimming as needed, while mature plants should be pruned in August. Old shrubs which have not been properly tended for some time can be cropped down to approximately 15-30 cm high in May to stimulate healthy, new growth. A Tree Surgeon can assist you by shaping your Box plants for the best ornamental effect in your garden, and this beneficial maintenance can also help protect your plants from disease.
The most common problem encountered with Box is the fungal disease Box blight. Treatment involves clipping off any affected areas, applying a fungicide to the shrub, and removing any potentially contaminated plant matter and surface soil underneath. Box blight may be prevented by regular, careful pruning, which can help ensure adequate air circulation. Pests such as the Box tree caterpillar, red spider mite, scale insects and box suckers are less frequently seen, but can also be an issue.