Bare Root Boxwood & Topiary


The American landscape has been dotted with boxwood bushes since the colonists decorated their gardens and yards with this easy to grow, glossy, evergreen bush. Used as a hedge or in topiary, the common boxwood is a versatile bush that can grow to 30 feet tall if not pruned. Dense leaves make the boxwood easy to work with for topiary.


Boxwood plants with a bare root should be planted carefully to avoid damaging the exposed roots. North Carolina State University's Department of Horticulture Science recommends planting boxwood plants in well-drained soil and away from areas that remain wet. The planting hole should be about twice as wide as the roots and only as deep as the plant was in the container it was purchased in. Boxwoods that are planted too deeply may become unhealthy and possibly die.


Boxwoods can be pruned at almost any time of the growing season until six weeks before frost is expected, according to N.C. State University. Boxwoods should be pruned to remove diseased or dead branches. Gardening Central suggests frequent light pruning of boxwood bushes to avoid trimming more than 50 percent of the bush at any given time. Light trimmings will result in full, healthy boxwood plants.


Boxwoods have several functions in a landscape. Topiary created out of boxwoods provide visual focal points in a garden. Formally trimmed hedges are considered a form of topiary, although many topiary enthusiasts go beyond the basic square style bushes. Boxwoods can also be used to create privacy as they can grow both tall and dense with careful pruning.

Cultivation from Cuttings

Boxwood bushes are started in several ways. According to the American Boxwood Society, boxwoods can be cultivated from cuttings or layering. Once a cutting is collected (July to December is recommended to allow the cutting a chance to harden off), the leaves from the bottom inch of the stem need to be removed. Any type of container with drainage can be used for rooting the cutting. It will take several months for the cutting to root; the plant can be planted outside the following growing season.

Cultivation from Layering

Some boxwoods naturally go through the process of layering, according to the American Boxwood Society. "Layering occurs when roots develop on a stem while it is still attached to the parent plant." Pruning the layered branch creates a new plant can be placed in the ground with its own root system. Natural layers that are allowed to grow will compete with the parent plant and neither will end up growing well.

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About this Author

Melissa Nykorchuk has been writing professionally since 2002. She has contributed to various online publications and obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.