Annual Boxwood Care
William H. McCaleb VCE Southside Master Gardener Association Coordinator Where do you start when talking about boxwood? I am going to start with what seems to be the most misunderstood part of caring for these hardy shrubs found all throughout Southern Virginia, mulching. Properly mulching boxwoods is key to healthy long living boxwoods. If you are going to mulch at all, it is best for the plant to do it right. Boxwoods are a shallow-rooted shrub so some mulching, and I emphasis some mulch, can help retain moisture and keep roots at an even temperature. Experts recommend no more than 2”– 3” layer of mulch. The mulch should extend about 1 foot beyond the dripline of the boxwood plant. What mulch to use? It helps to know what you have available locally, but some softwood mulches work as well as some hardwood mulches. Some hardwood mulch chips lessen the growth of fungi and it has been found that cypress and cedar chips discourage termites. Yes, you will probably pay more for these mulch materials but consider the outcome and advantages or each type of mulch. Keep in mind that boxwoods like a slightly acidic soil, 6.8 pH, so if you use softwoods (pine bark chips or pine needles), the soil will naturally become more acidic over time as the vegetative material breaks down. You may need to come back and sweeten the soil with a little lime at a later date, based on a soil test.