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Common BoxwoodBuxus sempervirens

  • Common Boxwood - Buxus sempervirens
  • Common Boxwood - Buxus sempervirens
  • Common Boxwood - Buxus sempervirens

Sometimes called the aristocrat of hedging plants, the boxwood is famous for its use in formal gardens. Crips, high hedges and ornate topiaries are often the result of nurtured and carefully sheared boxwoods. But don’t let that deter you. It is a versatile landscape shrub that works well as a specimen, hedge or mass planting—even in the most casual of gardens.

Hardiness Zones

The common boxwood can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 5–8. View Map

Tree Type

This is an evergreen shrub, keeping its foliage year-round.

Mature Size

The common boxwood grows to a height of 15–20' and a spread of 15–20' at maturity.

Growth Speed Slow Growth Rate

This shrub grows at a slow rate, with height increases of less than 12" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun and partial shade are best for this shrub, meaning it prefers a minimum of 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

The common boxwood grows in acidic, alkaline, loamy, moist, rich, sandy, silty loam and well-drained soils.


This shrub:
  • Features leathery, simple leaves that are a lustrous dark green color, persist year-round, are elliptic or oblong and measure ½–1
  • Works well for shearing.
  • Adapts to many soil types.
  • Will discolor in severe winter weather.
  • Can be used as a specimen, hedge, mass planting or topiary.
  • Grows in a rounded shape.

Wildlife Value

Boxwoods contain a toxic alkaloid that makes them unpalatable. As a result, deer and other wildlife tend not to eat them.


Through the years, the boxwood has been associated with formal gardens. Boxwood parterres and hedges can be seen in many of the great gardens of Europe and America. Colonial Williamsburg, especially around the Governor's Mansion, offers wonderful examples of formal boxwood use.