Buxus, Hedera and Ligustrum are commonly used plants for topiary. However, temperate plants such as Ficus Pumila (creeping fig), Jasmine and even Fuchsia make beautiful statements.
The following three species of Buxus (commonly known as Box) are particularly useful for topiary.
Buxus sempervirens Suffruticossa (dwarf box)
Buxus microphylla Japonica (Japanese or Littleleaf box)
Buxus microphylla Koreana (Korean box)
Buxus can be expensive especially mature specimens so way not propagate your own. Our growing diary shows you how.
The above species of buxus have small, dense evergreen leaves and are perfect for neat clipping. They are also suitable for planting in containers.
The ideal height for these plants is 30 – 60 cms. However, do not trim the top surface until it has reached the desired height. Buxus Koreana is the true cold-hard stalwart, as it will survive temperatures of -20 to -25 degrees F or lower.
Buxus is extremely easy to grow, they are evergreen shrubs, densely growing with stiff branching and dark green, oval shaped leaves.
They can easily be trained into topiaries and are often pruned into imaginative and very formal shapes such as pyramids, cones, tiers, cubes, and spheres. Although Letters, Numbers and other shapes such as teddy bears and hearts are becoming fashionable.
Buxus is commonly used as hedge plants, but they also can be used for almost any landscaping application. The small cultivars can be used in knot gardens or as edging around borders. To have a firm continuous hedge, you will need at least 6 to 8 plants per metre.
When planting as hedges or parterres it is a good idea to grow a few replacement plants in the garden. These can be used to replace injured or weak plants.
A single piece of topiary can provide a strong focal point, whilst several clipped trees or shrubs can supply the garden with a design cornerstone.
Designers, architects and business owners are showing an increased interest in Buxus in the form of pyramids, balls and standards - or sometimes referred to as lollipop shapes. A significant increase became more obvious following the UK smoking ban in enclosed public places during July 2007.
Buxus should only be planted in well-drained soils. They should never be planted near gutter downpipes, under the dripline of a tree, or in any area that stays wet.
They are adaptable to many growing conditions, they will grow in sun or shade but they grow best in semi-shade. When grown in sunny locations, they grow uniformly, slowly, and are dense. When grown in shady locations, their growth becomes more lush and open, and the leaves have a glossier sheen.
Lime or sulfur and fertilizer can be added to the planting area to provide proper nutrition for good growth. They don't like a lot of mulch or certainly soil up around the trunk or crowns.
Some cultivars need protection from severe winter winds and experience some winter burn on leaves during exceptionally harsh winters. Avoid pruning in late summer as freezing weather easily injures the resulting growth.
They need very little pruning, unless of course they are used for topiary work, they should then be clipped in April or May.
Buxus tends to be free from insects and or disease. There is one insect pest, the boxwood psyllid, which will attack newly emerging leaves, piercing their cells and causing the leaves to become distorted and cupped. Applying a dormant oil spray in late March can easily control this insect. This is the easiest and best non-toxic way to control the psyllid.
It is indeed a very versatile, low-maintenance plant and deserves its place in your garden landscape. It is normally propagated from cuttings, although propagation from seed is possible. Layering, in which roots develop on a stem from the parent plant, can be used to increase your plants stock.
The wood is very strong has a blunting effect on cutters.