Buxus sempervirens L.

European Boxwood, English Boxwood, Box, Common Boxwood

Family: Buxaceae

Genus: Buxus

Category: Shrub - Evergreen

Zones: (5) 6 to 8

Size: 15 to 20' tall and wide possible but usually kept smaller

Growth Rate: Slow

Exposure: Sun, Filtered Sun, Part Shade, Shade


ID characteristics: Opposite, strong white midrib on the back, indentation on the tip. Leaf is small (<1"), dark green above, light green below. Petiole short with tiny hairs.

Yellow fragrant flowers in April to May. May brown in cold winters. Prune in late winter to avoid frost damage next season. Grows faster than Buxus microphylla but not as tolerant of summer heat.


There are many cultivars available with different sizes and shapes.

'Suffruticosa' (Dwarf English Boxwood) is very slow growing and can be kept to under 1' tall. It is a true edging plant. The leaves are small and less pointed than the species. First cultivated in 1753. RHS Award of Garden Merit in 2002. There are plants that are 150 years old and only 3' tall.


Published in Sp. Pl. 2: 983 in 1753. Native to southern Europe, northern Africa and western Asia. RHS Award of Garden Merit in 2002.


Sources of Information

© 2010-12 Lisa J. Miner