Saturday, June 18, 2011

Boxwood Propagation: Seeds?

I've written before about boxwood blooming. The blooms smell of grape Kool-aid. Tiny, cloverlike blossoms. They bloom in late winter or early spring.

Sometimes I don't pay attention. I noticed today that the Boxwoods looked 'funny.' Could they be dying from the drought? Did they have some kind of growth? A closer look revealed open seed pods everywhere.

Many pods had dropped their seeds. Some were not yet mature.

Looking straight on an almost mature pod, I noticed seeds inside.

Shiny black seeds of Buxus microphylla japonica

When I showed them to DH, he suggested that I plant a few to see if they would grow. I suspect that they will. Guess who prunes the boxwood here? The plants that were pruned in spring have few seed pods. Seed propagation is likely slow. Rooted cuttings take a few years before they take off and get taller than the gardener.

My late MIL rooted most of the boxwoods here. I rooted some. She advocated June as a good month for  cuttings. I've rooted layered cuttings as well, sometimes finding self-rooted limbs.

We had a discussion about pulling up 40 year old foundation planted boxwoods. My vote is to continue to leave them where they are, pruning from the back to keep them away from the house. Some of my pruning gets really creative sometimes. We have free-form, meatballs, square hedges and some topiary shapes. I love them all.

Mid March in the Upper Garden

Japanese boxwood, Buxus microphylla is hardy to USDA Zone 5. It has been grown in the United States since about 1890 and is the most adaptable of all boxwoods. Leaves are glossy, 1/2 inch wide by 1 inch long, have medium green color when grown in shade. It is an open, quick-growing shrub which can reach 8 ft tall. Plant width is often difficult to determine because of naturally occurring layering. Japanese boxwood is heat tolerant. Pruning can be done to shape plants and increase density any time of the year except six weeks before the average date of the first frost in the fall.

You can see more of my boxwoods in other seasons in this post:



  1. I think mine are buxus koreana, 'Wintergreen', smaller and I do not have to trim! My goal in gardening is no trimming or pruning.

    They do have very insignificant flowers and smell wonderful. It took them a few years before they bloomed and if you hadn't talked about yours, I might not have figured where that scent was coming from!

  2. If you can grow boxwoods, then I should go ahead and try them here. Are yours in part shade?

    Thinking of how slow they grow, it will be interesting to see how long it takes to grow a shrub from seed.

  3. I have been thinking about propagating some, but never thought about seeds. Funny, as many as I have, and yes, I see blooms, I have never noticed a small seedling coming up. You would think with that many seeds, we would notice some coming up on their own.

  4. I had no idea boxwood even bloomed let alone produced seeds. Amazing what I learn from blogs. Love that you named your pruning style as 'meatball' :)

  5. Dear Nell Jean, My boxwoods are puny compared with yours and haven't needed pruning, yet. I haven't seen flowers or seeds either, but now I know what to look for. P. x

  6. Nell Jean, we had Box hedging in the back garden for years. It was Buxus Sempervirens, the sort used for dwarf hedges. Unfortunately it fell foul to Box Blight which has destroyed and killed Box all over Europe. We still have some topiary, but a couple of them are starting to look dodgy. Hope it doesn't come over your way.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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