What are Boxwood Bonsai Trees & Care GuideLearn all about Boxwood Bonsai Trees and how to take care of them.
|Scientific/Botanical Name||Buxus sempervirens|
|Description||There are more than 70 species of boxwood. The common boxwood is hardy and gains height rapidly. It works best for bonsai shaping. The root system is shallow, and the bark is thin.|
|Position||A semi-shady position is the best growing site. In its natural environment the plant occupies a position under tree canopies. Excessive sunlight can burn the leaves of the plant. The boxwood bonsai is not tolerant of temperatures below minus 4oCentigrade.|
|Watering||Water the plant as needed to keep the soil moist but not soggy. Reduce watering dramatically during the fall and winter.|
|Feeding||Feed boxwood bonsai with a bonsai fertilizer during the growing season.|
|Leaf and Branch Pruning||Regular thinning and pruning of the internal branches will encourage back-budding and the retention of leaves. The thinning of leaves will cause growth of shoots, which can then be trained into the desired shape. Common boxwood tolerates hard pruning exceptionally well.|
|Re-potting & Growing Medium||The plant should not be re-potted any sooner than two years, and three years may be optimal. If re-potted sooner, its growth will be extremely vigorous.|
|Wiring||Shape with wire while the buds are still soft, and the plant is pliable. Monitor the plant so as to prevent damage to the new bark that develops.|
|Notes||The boxwood plants found at nurseries and garden centers can be readily trained as bonsai specimens.|
For anyone who has ever seen photos of English landscaping, Boxwood will be a familiar plant. Known for its pom-pom like design and ability to be shaped into living statues, Boxwood is actually a plant that is well-suited to be made into bonsai trees. The two most popular species of Boxwood are Buxus microphylla (Japanese Boxwood) and Buxus sempervirens (Common Boxwood).
What It Looks Like
For a more vigorous, fast growing plant, Common Boxwood is an ideal choice. Japanese Boxwood tends to grow slowly and is not as hearty. Both options have naturally short internodes and shallow root systems. These plants can withstand a great deal of pruning and have leaves that reduce well.
The bark on these species has a much older appearance than the plant deserves and can easily accumulate dirt. If it does accumulate dirt, the bark can be gently cleaned with just water and a toothbrush. Since the bark is very thin, it must be treated carefully to prevent any damage.
Boxwood grows very quickly, but it does not thicken very fast. Gardening books state that even in the wild, full-grown Boxwood may only grow to 3 inches wide after even 20 years of growth. To get around this, bonsai enthusiasts will often use older stock to start their bonsai. Boxwood hedges in the garden provide great material for new bonsai plants. All of the collecting should be done in March or April for the best results.
Other gardeners report success using air layering to start out their plants. For these cuttings, individuals should try to take them either in early spring or in fall. Each cutting needs to be at least four inches in length for it to successfully grow.
For the best results, bonsai enthusiasts should place Boxwood bonsai trees in partial sunlight. In nature, Boxwood naturally grows underneath larger trees and can handle this amount of light better. Unfortunately, this bonsai tree can only tolerate up to -4°C. If temperatures go below this, the plant should be offered extra protection or brought inside. Slight frosts may also cause the leaves to yellow, but they will brighten again once springtime comes around.
If the Boxwood sustains any wounds, it will generally heal well. Older plants or parts of the plants may have more difficulties healing after it receives a large wound. Generally, older parts of the tree should just be left as a deadwood feature instead of being cut off or modified.
Over time, the Boxwood bonsai tree will have to be repotted. Under normal circumstances, owners can expect to have to repot their plant their plants every other year. If the bonsai is repotted more often, it will grow more vigorously.
How To Prune
Since most Boxwoods will grow very vigorously, gardeners will have to regularly thin and prune the inner branches. Doing this on a regular schedule will help promote back-budding, increase ramification and keep the branches from becoming to bare.
Some growth should also be encouraged so the plant can grow healthily. During the early months of spring, allow the plant to grow as it would like. Afterward, start to prune and pinch to tree to refine the way it looks. Healthy plants will respond extremely well to partial defoliation. Leaf thinning will cause greater numbers of shoots which can then be trained the way the gardener wants.
After the new buds start to extend, gardeners can use wire to shape and train the plant. This needs to be done before the buds start to harden so the plant is still pliable enough. Older shoots are almost impossible to wire properly because they become too brittle and will break. Use air-wiring to loosely train the plant and look in on the plant often to make sure that the wire is not cutting into the fresh bark.
Styling The Bonsai Tree
Boxwood bonsai trees are best styled as informal upright. Some people will try other forms of training the plant, but this one generally works the best. To start these trees out, propagate them in late spring or summer.
Overall, Boxwood is a very hardy plant. It can be prone to red spider mites, so keep an eye out for it during the summer months. Another thing to be careful about is Box Blight. This fungal disease can cause the leaves to develop spots or fall off. Bark might develop black streaks and the grey fungus may be visible on any leaves that are remaining. Unfortunately, this fungus has no cure and the plant will normally die within three months. If this is spotted on any Boxwood bonsai trees, the affected plants should be separated from healthy Boxwood.
Boasting of over 70 different species, Boxwood is found throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and Central America. These compact plants are well-suited for bonsai and respond very well to training. Since it is a popular plant for landscapes, regular Boxwood plants can be found at any nursery and can easily be trained into being a bonsai tree.