Buxus microphylla is better known as the little leaf boxwood. Boxwood are shrubs that have a variety of uses in the home landscape and are easy to grow and care for. They are relatively pest and disease free and can tolerate a wide range of soil and exposure types. Buxus is easy to shear and prune into any habit and make excellent hedge plants. Buxus microphylla is most commonly propagated by cuttings but can be grown from seed.
There are over 70 species in the Buxus family but only two are common in the garden. The common boxwood and the little leaf boxwood are the usual species from which numerous cultivars exist for home landscaping. The plant grows in a tight habit with small 3/4-inch-long leaves and produces unremarkable tiny flowers in spring that are fragrant. The leaves are a dark green that turn bronze in cold winter temperatures. Little leaf boxwood can grow 2 to 3 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide.
Buxus microphylla is not a native plant and cannot be found in the wild in any habitat. It is a cultivated plant that may have originated in Japan and has been grown there since the 1400s. The plant is also known as Japanese boxwood although it is not known for sure where the plant actually comes from and if it is an extinct wild form or was created by man. Japanese boxwood is more heat tolerant than other boxwood species and can do equally well in full sun or part shade. The only soil requirement is a well draining situation and adequate irrigation especially in full sun locations.
Propagation from Seed
Seeding Buxus microphylla is a chancy business owing to an erratic germination pattern. The seeds require two to three months chilling to break dormancy which is done either in refrigeration or by stratification outside. The seeds are directly sowed in spring after stratification, in a sheltered location with indirect sun. The seed can also be sowed directly in a cold frame and will take one to three months to germinate. Seedlings grown from seed will have any number of variations from the parent plant.
Boxwood plants need little special care once established but the seedlings require shelter from wind, extreme cold and must have consistent irrigation. They can be grown in pots until they are large enough for transplanting into the garden setting. One-year-old seedlings can generally withstand transplantation in United States Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 5 to 9. Mulch around the young plants after they have been planted in the ground to minimise weeds and conserve moisture. The plants may be lightly shaped in the second year and sheared hard in the third. Boxwood should be fertilised in early spring and again in June or July if soil tests indicate it is necessary.
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