Even in temperate areas, warming weather in late winter or early spring followed by a cold snap can kill off delicate new foliage, resulting in dead, withered white or brown leaves and branches. Before shaping the shrub, make sure you remove all of the dead or damaged sections of the plant. Boxwood – Pruning, Winter Care and Fertilizing. Your tools should be sharp enough to leave a straight, clean cut. Luckily, we’re here to help. Ideally you should have little or no pruning necessary if you have planted conifers appropriate for your space. For large boxwoods, the distance should be at least 6 feet. They also remember how much time and effort it took to keep them in formal rigidity. Begin by pruning away dead or damaged branches with a pruning shear, lopper, or a saw. Shear or prune outer branch tips to shape and reduce size. Avoid disease by maintaining an open canopy and never allowing the boxwood to sit in water -- they prefer good soil drainage. If you prune boxwood regularly, it will not be able to cause significant damage to the house. There are two techniques for pruning boxwood, especially English box. Every day at wikiHow, we work hard to give you access to instructions and information that will help you live a better life, whether it's keeping you safer, healthier, or improving your well-being. ", "Avoided pruning at the wrong time! Repeat pruning through summer as needed. For tips on how to cope with boxwood blight, keep reading! Observe the boxwood and find and remove dead or broken branches. But nevertheless, it is not necessary to place these plants close to a wall. Please consider making a contribution to wikiHow today. Common box or boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) is a broadleaf evergreen growing to 5 to 15 feet tall and hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 8. Only cut up to a third out in any given year. Sarah Moore has been a writer, editor and blogger since 2006. For boxwoods that form a hedge and aren’t being modeled into any specific shape, pruning once before summer is enough. Use sharp, clean pruning shears to snip off the dead sections, making the cut at the base of the branch. Manual shaping can be done if desired, though. Japanese boxwoods must be trimmed regularly in their first two years of life. Always use sharp, clean pruning shears or loppers when cutting back shrubs. You will need to trim back to beyond any bark splitting. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. Thanks.". Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. % of people told us that this article helped them. Remove dead or damaged branches from the shrub first. For creating straight-lined hedges, stake the shrub and prune along the stake’s edges. What Are the Treatments for Volutella Twig Blight on Boxwood? Evergreen plants should begin the shutting down process in August, so when the winter comes, they are completely dormant. This, in turn, encourages disease, so avoid shearing if possible. Pruning Tips: Boxwood bonsai can be easily trained and pruned using the clip and grow method. Include your email address to get a message when this question is answered. Check the inside of the boxwood, carefully clean the internal branches, and only clean crowded areas, such as crossed or … Gardeners use boxwoods (Buxus spp.) The best time is that period where the end of winter meets the beginning of Spring, just before the new growth appears. Remove broken, dying, or diseased branches as soon as they are noticed. Whether responding to damage or simply shaping, clip off twigs one by one to maintain the shape and open the canopy. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014. Never remove more than one-third of the plant at a time. With some plants that means cutting them down to within 6 to 12 inches of the ground. Most boxwoods will only need 1 pruning a year to keep them well-groomed. Severe pruning in the first two years encourages Japanese boxwoods to develop more b… Thinning boxwoods so that air and light can reach the middle of the shrub is the most important thing you can do, as they tend to become very thick. These shrubs are common landscaping plants in yards and parks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2U46_6bvkIA, https://www.southernliving.com/garden/grumpy-gardener/pruning-big-boxwoods-when-how, http://www.thepruningschool.com/Articles/boxwoodPruning.htm, consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow. By using our site, you agree to our. Shearing encourages the plant to branch and leaf out at the ends, which blocks sunlight and air from reaching the center of the shrub. Just like you care for your boxwoods in summer, care of boxwoods in winter is paramount. Your support helps wikiHow to create more in-depth illustrated articles and videos and to share our trusted brand of instructional content with millions of people all over the world. Remove dead branches to a point a couple inches below their point of origin. Special scissors or shears have been developed for pruning topiary, they are perfect for boxwood. If your boxwood blight is serious, do a quick search online to find the best strategy for fixing your shrubs. We can help you with any of your garden needs from design, planting and building to regular garden maintenance, weeding, pruning, mulching, edging, fertilizer, etc. Because the Winter Gem boxwood shrubs are evergreen and hardy to around 20 degrees below zero Fahrenheit, you can prune them at nearly any time of year and they will still recover heartily. wikiHow is where trusted research and expert knowledge come together. ", "We moved into a old house where the hedges had not been pruned for years. The University of Florida IFAS Extension recommends you soak tools for five minutes in a solution of 1 part 70 percent isopropyl rubbing alcohol and 1 part water, and rinse with clear water. Early trimming is the first step in training boxwoods into a desirable landscaping shape. Thinning the boxwood will help rejuvenate the interior of the plant by allowing additional airflow and light to reach the center of the boxwood. When it comes to pruning shrubs and small trees, home landscapers tend to come in one of two types: those that are excessively timid about pruning out of fear of doing damage, and those that aggressively over-prune in an effort to achieve that perfectly shaped shrub or hedge. Thinning allows the center of the plant to receive adequate sunlight and air circulation. First they were used as a landing mat … Boxwood – Pruning Damage. In general, most pruning is "Working on my success story now, everything on our property was planted by dad's mother over 80 years ago. These branches should be easy to spot—the leaves will be shriveled up and brown, and the stems will snap easily. In addition to help with protecting boxwoods from winter damage. Instead of shearing, thinning is the recommended way to prune both compact and larger boxwood varieties. Once the branch puts out buds you can prune back to the healthy wood. Maintaining a shrub in a specific shape or size may require pruning at least once a year. Please help us continue to provide you with our trusted how-to guides and videos for free by whitelisting wikiHow on your ad blocker. How to Prune Evergreens. Finally, trim off any branches sticking out above your boxwood, which will tame the plant. Never take cuttings from the diseased portion of a plant. Even without manually shaping the tree, a dogwood will usually maintain a nice shape. This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. Pruning is a call to grow, so I try not to prune later in the season. Wait until spring so you can assess the damage. Both are acceptable, and have been done for hundreds of years. Directional pruning techniques can be … Of course, the best way to avoid having to cut back overgrown boxwoods is not to let them get overgrown in the first place. To trim your overgrown boxwood, start by removing dead branches with brown or shriveled leaves. Plant dwarf boxwood 3-4 feet from the house. Many times, the stems sticking out will be new growth showing lighter green colored leaves. Thin as much as you think is necessary without killing the plant. Selective Pruning of Boxwood Use a sharp pair of bypass hand pruners to selectively remove stray, damaged or dead branches. Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 47,987 times. Find overgrown bulky branches that are over taking the plant and trim them back to the main branch. Remember not to cut off more than one-third of the shrub each growing season. Also remove any dead branches at this time as well as plant debris that accumulates in the center of the shrubs. Although generally hardy, boxwoods sometimes suffer winter damage, when unusually warm winter weather encourages plants to begin growing. Let the tools air dry. These branches will make the boxwood bushes look bad and may be invaded by insects and diseases. During the flowering period, restrict your pruning. The most appropriate pruning method for boxwood is thinning, removing entire stems or branches at their point of attachment. Shears can damage large leaves, however, causing them to turn brown and die, so on large-leaved plants such as rhododendron use pruners, not shears. This will ensure that there is wood in the branch to promote new bud growth. Does that mean one foot if the diameter of the bush is three feet? If you really can’t stand to see another ad again, then please consider supporting our work with a contribution to wikiHow. With boxwoods, you should think thirds. Fungicides are usually applied directly to the plant, either remaining on the surface or being absorbed into the plant. Make sure you look at the interior of the shrub for dead or damaged sections, not just the outer parts of the shrub. Add soil and keep them moist during dry spells. Removing leaves and branches that have fallen off will allow more light and air to reach the middle of the shrub. If you’re dealing with bulky branches, cut them back as far as the leaves are growing, which will thin out the plant and help it grow back more evenly. Most types grow slowly, so one pruning a year keeps them in bounds. This will assist with reducing disease organisms. Avoid disease by maintaining an open canopy and never allowing the boxwood to sit in water -- they prefer good soil drainage. About one-third of the bush should be thinned each year, since boxwoods keep their foliage for three years. With good power and sharp blades, you can shape your boxwood into nearly any shape you can imagine. This video shows you how to repair damaged boxwoods using arbor chain. Boxwoods prefer full sunlight in fertile soils. Trim internal branches. Last Updated: April 3, 2020 This shrub all often used in mass or as a hedge but their care can be the same if used as a specimen. If you are able to save some branches, full recovery will take several years. She earned a BA in Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Western Michigan University in 2014. Then, pull the remaining branches apart so you can see inside the plant and remove any debris, such as leaves or broken branches so more light can reach the center of the shrub. The long blades allow you to prune wide swaths of the boxwood with a single stroke. Prune evergreen shrubs (yew, holly, and boxwoods) and evergreen trees (spruce, fir) in late winter or early spring when they are still dormant and before new growth begins. Hard pruning or rejuvenation pruning is when you cut a plant back by remove the majority of it top. If your boxwood is diseased, prune off infected branches below the site of infection. References Tools needed to prune boxwood. Boxwood leafminer (Monarthropalpusi flavus) is a common and destructive pest that causes significant damage to boxwoods here in the Dayton area, although the symptoms are often mistaken for winter injury rather than insect infestation.Since boxwoods are such a popular shrub, it’s important to control leafminers so they don’t spread to neighboring plants and properties. Please consider making a contribution to wikiHow today. Make your cut at a point along the branch just above the main form of the plant. Lauren has worked for Aurora, Colorado managing the Water-Wise Garden at Aurora Municipal Center for the Water Conservation Department. Dogwood trees do not usually need much pruning. Especially yews, adds Lee, you can do pretty much anything with them. Buxus is the horticultural name for boxwood plants. You can do this with hand pruners or shears. Pay attention to damaged plant material when pruning. Pines are pruned in early June to early July. Approved. This article was co-authored by Lauren Kurtz. How to Prune a Dogwood. Protecting boxwood in winter is no small task, but boxwood winter damage is no small thing for your shrub. If this happens, clip off dead tips of branches below the damage site, using a hand pruner. Properly pruned boxwood will have leaves along the entire branch length. In this case, some of your branches may be leafless when you cut them back. Amid the current public health and economic crises, when the world is shifting dramatically and we are all learning and adapting to changes in daily life, people need wikiHow more than ever. This helped a lot, thanks! Small-leaved plants, such as boxwood, can be clipped with shears or a hedge trimmer. Pruning loppers have a longer handle and are great for more heavy-duty pruning. We recommend making the cuts at least 2-3 pairs down from new shoots. While boxwoods do best with an annual pruning in early spring, after the last predicted frost date, you can prune for disease at any time to avoid its spread. We know ads can be annoying, but they’re what allow us to make all of wikiHow available for free. Wait for the threat of frost to pass before pruning boxwoods. My daughter has smaller variety of boxwoods and cuts them all summer to keep them at the height she likes. To cut down as far as you see greenery, look at the branch and see where the leaves are growing on it. The only way to treat winter burn in boxwood is to prune out affected branches. Ideally, you should shape your hedge before the flowers appear on the shrub. Pruning should be done in early spring before leafing out. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Pruning conifers is quite a bit different than pruning deciduous shrubs or trees, the broadleaf evergreens such as holly and boxwood are more similar to deciduous pruning. Cut plants back to 6 to 8 inches as soon as they're planted. Boxwoods make good hedge plants as well as individual central shrubs in the landscape. For creating sharp-angle boxwood hedges, you should prune with hedge clippers. Contrary to popular belief, boxwoods actually do much better with hand pruning than with shearing. For hedge-bound boxwood, any hedge trimmer or long-bladed shears will do fine. Hedge trimmers are ideal when shaping larger boxwoods. They are the gardeners that remember trimming boxwood bushes into severe and often geometric shapes that have no place in the more casual gardens of today. 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\n<\/p><\/div>"}. Most of these boxwood are better than 20 years old. READ COMPLETE ANSWER But because boxwoods are very prone to winter damage, you want to time their pruning—especially a hard pruning—carefully. We use cookies to make wikiHow great. Q: My question is about my boxwoods that are at the front of my house. Missouri Botanical Garden Kemper Center for Home Gardening: Winter Damage to Boxwoods, North Carolina State University: Growing Boxwoods in the Landscape, University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences: Boxwood Culture and Care, Missouri Botanical Garden: "Buxus" Green Giant, Missouri Botanical Garden: Buxus Sempervirens, University of Florida IFAS Extension: Disinfecting Pruning Tools. It's not ideal to leave ragged edges. Boxwood Winter Damage. How to prune boxwood bushes Remove dead or damaged boxwood branches. Cut no more than 1/3 each season. Lauren Kurtz is a Naturalist and Horticultural Specialist. Cultivars such as “Green Gem” (Buxus “Green Gem”) grow to a compact 2 feet high and wide and are hardy in USDA zones 4 through 9. Luke Gustafson, Agent Associate for UME Charles County shows how and why you should prune your boxwood to keep them healthy and disease-free. In this case, 96% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. I use bypass handpruners and love my Felco 8’s and 6’s! If your boxwood has become overgrown, all you'll need is a pair of sharp, clean pruning shears or loppers. Boxwoods have fallen out of favor with some gardeners in recent years. For tips on how to cope with boxwood blight, keep reading! Prune shade trees, such as oak, sweetgum, maple, … as hedge plants and foundation specimens. In the fall of the first year, trim boxwoods again, cutting them back to half their size. While late February is best, you can prune boxwoods anytime except for late summer or early fall. Overgrown boxwoods become super thick, not allowing light or air to reach the middle of the shrub, which results in an unhealthy plant. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. If this is inconvenient, use several tools at once to speed up the process. Boxwoods are hardy, durable shrubs. You should also prune off any dead, dying, split or broken branches below the injury site. On boxwoods that have not been trimmed in several years, decrease the size of the shrub over many growing seasons. Replace the solution after every 10 plants you prune, or after using the disinfectant for two hours. When you prune boxwoods for disease, disinfect pruning tools between cuts to avoid transmitting the pathogen to different parts of the plant. Boxwoods, because of their dense foliage, often die out in the center from a lack of sunlight. Boxwood – Pruning Damage. Hedge trimmers are gas, electric, or battery-powered tools that have long oscillating blades. Make sure you read the instructions on the fungicide carefully to ensure you're applying the right amount to the plant and following proper safety protocol. This article has been viewed 47,987 times. You can prune boxwood at any time of year except for the six weeks leading up to the first predicted frost, according to North Carolina State University. Cut them back to half size again the next year. She holds a master's degree in journalism. You can also check for bark splitting which is characteristic of winter damage in Boxwoods. I just did this with an upright variety of boxwood which I trim in a cone shape from the bottom up to help it keep its shape. Pruning with hand pruners ; Pruning by plucking or breaking with your fingers. Using a bypass pruner, reach inside the shrub down to about 6 inches and prune off a few of the inner stems. Boxwoods suffer badly in winter because they’re native to areas where winters are very mild. Only cut as far down as the greenery is growing. It means to trim no more than 1/3 the height, regardless of the diameter. Only cut ⅓ of the total shrub so it stays healthy. Consider using anvil pruners and bypass loppers, which allow even smaller hands to cut branches up to one and a …