How to Prune a Boxwood

by Alex Kountry
Updated on

Find out how to prune a boxwood shrub the right way in this helpful blog post.

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Why Prune Boxwoods?

Pruning is an important part of keeping your boxwood healthy and looking its best. Boxwoods can be pruned for various reasons including shaping, removing diseased or damaged branches, or to promote new growth. Pruning also encourages proper air circulation and helps to reduce the risk of fungal diseases.

To promote growth

Pruning is essential for the health and vigor of boxwood shrubs. Properly pruned, boxwoods will develop strong shoot growth from the base of the plant. This results in a thicker, more compact plant with foliage down to the ground. Without regular pruning, boxwoods can become thin and spindly with much of the foliage located at the tips of long shoots.

To shape the plant

Pruning is done for two reasons: to remove dead or damaged wood and to shape the plant. The best time to prune boxwoods is in late winter before new growth begins.

Pruning for shaping is usually done on formal hedges to create a specific shape, such as a square, ball, or animal topiary. To shape a plant, start by removing any dead or damaged wood. Then, make cuts at an angle so that new growth will fill in the space. Make sure not to cut into the green part of the plant, as this will damage the plant.

To remove dead or diseased branches

To remove dead or diseased branches, cut them back to just above a healthy bud. If the dead branch is large, make the cut in several stages to avoid tearing the bark.

When to Prune Boxwoods?

Spring is the best time to prune your boxwoods because the new growth will help hide the pruning cuts. You should also prune your boxwoods if they are getting too big for their space, if they are leggy, or if they are damaged. Pruning will help encourage new growth and make your boxwoods look their best.

In late winter or early spring

Pruning provides an opportunity to shape young plants and remove dead, damaged or misplaced branches from older specimens. Boxwoods are best pruned in late winter or early spring while they are still dormant. This ensures that any cuts will heal quickly and helps the plant to focus its energy on new growth rather than wound repair.

Before new growth begins

Pruning boxwoods is best done in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. This allows the plant to heal quickly and produce new growth that will cover any bare spots.

Boxwoods can also be pruned in summer, but this should be done carefully to avoid damaging the plant. If you must prune during summer, do it in the early morning or evening when the sun is not as strong.

It’s important to prune boxwoods regularly to promote healthy growth and prevent them from becoming overgrown.

How to Prune Boxwoods?

The best time to prune boxwoods is in late winter before new growth begins. Boxwoods can be pruned into shapes, such as spheres, cubes, or pyramids. You will need to have the right tools for the job, which includes pruning shears and gloves.

Start with the basics

Boxwoods (Buxus spp.) are popular evergreen shrubs that are easily pruned into various shapes. But before you reach for the pruning shears, it’s important to understand the basics of how to prune boxwoods. With a little knowledge, you can keep your boxwoods looking their best with minimal effort.

When to prune boxwoods
Boxwoods can be pruned at any time of year, but according to the University of Missouri Extension, the best time to prune boxwoods is in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. This is because the plant is dormant and won’t be adversely affected by pruning. Spring is also a good time to give your boxwoods a light trimming to tidy up their shape.

How to prune boxwoods
The first step in how to prune boxwoods is to select the right tools for the job. Hand pruners or shears are fine for small jobs, but for larger shrubs, you may need loppers or a saw. It’s also important to sterilize your tools before you begin cutting into the plant. This helps prevent the spread of disease from one plant to another.

To sterilize your tools, simply dip them in a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water and let them air dry. Once your tools are ready, you can begin pruning your boxwood shrub. Start by removing any dead, diseased or damaged wood first. Then, make cuts at a 45-degree angle just above an existing bud or node (the knob-like growths along the stem). Cutting at an angle helps prevent water from collecting on the cut and causing rot.

It’s also important not to over-prune your boxwood shrub. When in doubt, it’s better to make smaller cuts more often rather than large cuts less often. With proper care and regular pruning, you can keep your boxwood looking neat and tidy for years to come!

Remove dead or diseased branches

To start, remove any dead or diseased branches. You can identify these by their color (branches that are brown or black are typically dead), by the presence of mushrooms or other fungi growing on them, or by their general appearance (branches that are dried out, cracked, or otherwise not healthy-looking).

Once you’ve removed all of the dead and diseased branches, take a look at the shape of the plant. If it’s overgrown or otherwise not looking as nice as it could, you can trim it back to improve its shape. When doing this, be sure to avoid cutting into the green portion of the branch (the part that’s still alive), as this will damage the plant.

If you don’t need to trim back the plant for any reason, you can skip this step. Otherwise, use sharp pruning shears to make clean cuts at the desired spot.

Cut back healthy branches

Cut back all healthy branches by 1/3 their total length. This will help to encourage new growth and make the plant more compact. Be sure to make your cuts at a 45 degree angle, just above a node (where the leaves attach to the stem).

Shape the plant

Boxwoods are popular shrubs that are often used as hedges or foundation plantings. They are easy to care for and can be pruned to maintain a desired shape.

To prune a boxwood, start by trimming back any dead or diseased branches. Then, cut back any straggly or overgrown branches. Next, shape the plant by trimming back the sides and top of the plant to create a desired shape. Finally, cut back any branches that are crossing or rubbing against each other.

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About the author

Alex Kountry

Alex Kountry is the founder of HayFarmGuy and has been a backyard farmer for over 10 years. Since then he has decided to write helpful articles that will help you become a better backyard farmer and know what to do. He also loves to play tennis and read books

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