English Box (Buxus sempervirens) is a popular hedging species that can be trimmed to a minimum height of 40cm or allowed to grow to more than a metre. (If left untrimmed, English Box grows to approximately 1.5 metres in height and width). (A variegated cultivar is also available).
Popular in French and English gardens of centuries past, English Box has returned to popularity and is often a gardener's first choice when landscaping a formal garden. English box hedges can be used to define garden beds but are equally suited to topiary.
English box is very versatile and will grow in dry or moist soils in sun or shade, although growth will be more rapid where plants receive at least four hours of direct sunshine in summer. Plants will benefit from the application of a nitrogenous fertiliser (such as urea) twice a year in the growth season. English box is frost tolerant.
How to grow a box hedge:
English box is slow-growing which makes it suitable for hedging (fast-growing plants are ill-suited because they require frequent trimming).
Prepare soil with compost before spacing plants at 30 cm intervals. Use tensioned strings to ensure that the hedge is planted in a straight line where this is required. The minimum height and width for an English box hedge is 40cm, so consider the width of the hedge when planting.
Water plants well and apply an all-purpose fertiliser (such as Yates Thrive Granular). Planting can be done all year round but there will generally be two growth spurts a year.
New growth will appear as vivid green leaves, maturing to deep green. Trim the hedge plants every season after the new growth has almost completed the transition to deep green. This should be done by hand with secateurs. Trim both the top and sides of every plant. For a period of time, plants will appear as a series of balls until their size eventually permits them to grow into each other. By progressively trimming the plants in this way over several years, a dense hedge will be created.
By following these instructions and growing plants under ideal conditions, the box plants should be touching each other within 3 years and a proper hedge should be formed within 4-5 years. The amount of sun and water available, as well as the quality of soil will ultimately dictate how long this takes.
Be patient! Once the hedge has developed, it may only require an annual trim with hedging shears. Box hedges not only add class to a garden, but value to a home as well.