Box is tolerant of a wide range of soil types, provided there is adequate drainage and it does not dry out completely. A reliably moist soil is especially important if growing in full sun, otherwise the foliage may scorch. Box will tolerate deep shade and is ideal for planting beneath taller trees.
Planting in the garden
- Box should be planted in autumn or spring
- For hedging prepare a planting area by thoroughly cultivating the soil to a spade's depth and up to 90cm (3ft) wide
- For individual specimens dig a planting hole to a spade's depth and a diameter of three times the width of the rootball
- On poorer soils spread organic matter, such as well rotted manure or garden compost, over the prepared area and fork in. Do not place organic matter in the bottom of a planting trench or hole
- Plant common box, Buxus sempervirens about 30-40cm (1ft-16in) apart
- Compact cultivars, such as B. ‘Suffruticosa’ and Buxus microphylla, can be planted 10-15cm (4-6in) apart
Do not allow young plants to dry out. Check regularly and water to keep the soil moist – but do not allow to become waterlogged, particularly in winter. Once established, apply a general-purpose fertiliser such as Growmore at 70g per sq m (2oz per sq yd) in spring and mulch to a depth of 5cm (2in).
If well cared for, small plants should form a reasonable hedge or, in the case of B. sempervirens 'Suffruticosa', parterre within three to five years.
Planting in containers
Box can be successfully grown in containers, and is often clipped into formal topiary shapes.
Select a container at least 45cm (18in) in diameter and use a loam-based compost, such as John Innes No 3. Make sure plants never dry out, even in winter.
Apply a general purpose liquid feed monthly during summer. Topdress established container-grown plants in spring with fresh compost and a little slow-release fertiliser, such as Vitax Q4 or blood, fish and bone.