Boxwoods: Perfect for Pots

Count on these handsome shrubs to fill your containers with style.

Susanne Hudson knows boxwoods like Rod Blagojevich knows hair. More than 400 of these venerable shrubs decorate her garden in Douglasville, Georgia, and she says you're missing the boat if you don't try growing them in pots. Here are just a few of her reasons.

Why Boxwoods are Perfect for Pots

Boxwoods in pots are living sculptures. These evergreen shrubs combine rich green foliage with a dense, rounded, formal shape that changes little over time. "A boxwood looks just as good in January as it does in May," Susanne notes.

Boxwoods are the nearest thing to no maintenance. They tolerate drought and need little fertilizer. Plus the American boxwoods (Buxus sempervirens) and dwarf English boxwoods (B. sempervirens 'Suffruticosa') she favors grow so slowly that they hardly ever need trimming. "I've never trimmed mine," she says.

Growing boxwoods in containers raises them to new heights. The same-size shrubs planted in pots look twice as large as those in the ground, giving more impact.

Growing Tips:

  • Choose a fast-draining pot that is at least as wide and tall as the plant itself and preferably bigger. The larger the container, the more soil it holds and the less often you have to repot or water. When planting, use tree and shrub soil, not heavy topsoil. Fill with soil around the root-ball to within a half-inch of the rim. Leaving space at the top keeps water from spilling out.
  • Hand-water each boxwood so that water runs from the drainage hole. Then repeat just to make sure the soil is moist from top to bottom. How often should you do this? "I water about once a week in the hot summer," says Susanne. "In winter I hardly ever do it."
  • As long as boxwoods have fertile soil, they need little feeding. All she does is add about an inch of compost to the top of each pot in spring. (Soil washes from the container over time to provide the space.)
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