The Indispensable Care of Japanese Boxwood - Absolute Gardener

The Indispensable Care of Japanese Boxwood

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japanese boxwood

There is a reason Japanese boxwood has been around for over 3,000 years. They are one of the most beautiful and durable plants in existence! But Japanese boxwood does not take care of itself. It is up to you to ensure that they are healthy enough to grow into their full potential – and this blog post will show you how!

What is Japanese Boxwood?

Japanese boxwood is a type of shrub. It’s typically used as a topiary and can be grown in small containers. Japanese boxwoods are commonly called Japanese boxwoods trees or Japanese boxwood hedge plants, but this refers to the different varieties that come from other parts of Asia.

They typically grow up to about two feet high and produce small, yellowish-white Japanese boxwood flowers that blossom from April through June. Japanese boxwoods don’t need much maintenance but they can be difficult for novice gardeners because the plant is prone to a few different types of diseases.

japanese boxwood

Origins of Japanese Boxwood

The Japanese origins of the Japanese boxwood are not known for sure but it’s said that they came from China and were brought to Japan in the late 17th century by Dutch traders at Nagasaki where Japanese craftsmen used them in Japanese gardens.

Japanese boxwood green beauty is a fast-growing evergreen shrub. It gets its name from the rectangular shape of Japanese boxes in which it was traditionally used to store objects. The Japanese people would use Japanese boxwood as an ornamental hedge, so that they were able to see and enjoy their prized possessions, without letting them be seen by others.

Japanese boxwood shrubs are a great gift for Japanese people, since the Japanese sense of beauty values natural simplicity and things that are not too ornate or elaborate. Japanese boxwood varieties can take an infinite number of shapes: they come in all sizes, from miniature plants to five-meter tall shrubs, and they can be grown as single specimens or in groups.

The Japanese people prefer Japanese boxwood to other types of hedging because it is slow-growing compared to the more common garden varieties, so one has plenty of time to decide where and how many plants are needed for their desired effect. The Japanese people also believe that japanese boxwood has a long life span.

Japanese boxwood is not only popular in Japan, but it’s also gaining momentum as an ornamental plant in other parts of the world too. It is especially enjoyed for its simplicity and versatility, meaning that it can be used to create a Japanese garden or traditional English hedges.

Japanese Boxwood Care Guide

Japanese boxwood is a beautiful plant that can be found growing in most temperate climates. It’s also one of the few plants that thrive near bodies of saltwater, making it an excellent choice for coastal gardens or those who live close to oceans and want Japanese boxwoods on their property. As with all living things, Japanese boxwood needs to be cared for, but Japanese boxwoods are exceptionally easy-to-care-for plants. Here are some Japanese boxwoods care guides :


Japanese boxwood prefers soil that is acidic. The pH level should be between four and five. A Japanese boxwood in the ground can tolerate up to 12 inches of snow, but it will not grow well if the snow remains on top of it for more than two days at a time. If you plant Japanese boxwood in the ground, you should use a Japanese boxwood-specific soil mix.

These soils are usually comprised of peat moss and sand; however, there are many variations to choose from. If planting Japanese boxwood in containers or bonsai pots, it is important to maintain acidity with specialized Japanese boxwood soils. Maintaining Japanese boxwood indoors is a bit more difficult, and it’s best to rely on the soil in the container for most nutrients.


Japanese boxwood will grow in sun or shade so long as the soil is moist. They are sensitive to excessive heat but Japanese boxwoods can survive extreme cold. The best kind of light for Japanese boxwood plants is bright, filtered sunlight without a lot of direct afternoon exposure that may scorch leaves and flowers.


Japanese Boxwoods are drought-resistant plants that do not need to be watered often. When Japanese boxwood is planted in the ground, it should only be given water every other week or so as needed because Japanese boxwoods can survive without much rainfall in their natural environment and thrive when they have less water.

A Japanese boxwood that is planted in a pot may need to be watered more often because Japanese boxwoods do not have root systems like many other plants and they are unable to reach the water at the bottom of their container. A Japanese boxwood plant should only be given enough water so that it does not wilt and it should only be given water when it is needed.

Japanese boxwood plants do best in areas that have moist soil with good drainage, so Japanese boxwoods planted indoors may need to be watered more often than Japanese boxwoods outside because they cannot uptake as much moisture from the ground.


Keeping Japanese boxwood happy is not as hard as you think. As long as the temperature stays between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, Japanese boxwood will be perfectly healthy and happy.

This means that Japanese boxwoods should never be placed in a room with temperatures below or above what they are used to!

If they are exposed to temperatures that are outside of their comfortable range, they will begin to do poorly and eventually die. This also means they should never be moved into a room with the opposite temperature without first acclimating it – this can take up to two weeks!


The Japanese boxwood is quite sensitive to humidity. If the plant becomes too dry it will get sick and die eventually if not corrected promptly. The ideal amount of moisture in soil should be around 40%. To maintain this, water your Japanese boxwood once or twice every week depending on how hot its living conditions are. And if the Japanese boxwood is indoors, make sure to not overwater it.

To measure the humidity of your Japanese boxwood’s living conditions you can use a hygrometer or even just by feeling how moist its leaves are. This will help you decide on when and how often to water it.


japanese boxwoodWhen Japanese boxwood needs fertilizing, it’s because there’s been too little rain or the soil has eroded away nutrients over time. Soil with an acid pH should be avoided as Japanese boxwoods thrive on alkaline soils and don’t grow well in acidic soils.

Fertiliser is best applied in the winter because Japanese boxwoods respond better to fertilising during cooler months, and it also helps prevent Japanese boxwood from getting too much sun or heat which can burn its leaves. The type of fertiliser you use should be based on the needs of your Japanese boxwood.

If Japanese boxwoods are located in an urban environment, they should be fertilised with a slow-release type of fertiliser such as Osmocote. Urban Japanese boxwoods need less water and the soil is often more acidic than rural Japanese boxwoods which thrive on alkaline soils that have more nutrients.

In the countryside, Japanese boxwoods need more fertiliser, especially if they’re grown in acidic or alkaline soil without much rainfall. A good all-purpose type of fertilizer would be one that is high in nitrogen such as an 18-18-24 NPK formulation and it should also contain micronutrients for Japanese boxwoods. It’s important to water Japanese boxwoods after applying fertiliser and you should keep an eye on your Japanese boxwood for any signs of stress which could be a sign that it needs more moisture or less sun, shade, or heat depending on the situation.


There are many misconceptions about Japanese boxwoods and their toxicity. The most common misconception is that Japanese boxwood can cause skin reactions in people who handle them, but this has never been documented by any reputable sources. Although the Japanese boxwood does have sap that may irritate sensitive skin, it should not be a problem for most people.


Pruning Japanese boxwood is a very important part of caring for Japanese boxwood. The shape and size of the shrub will depend on when it was last pruned. Pruning Japanese boxwoods in spring creates denser, fuller branches that are more vibrant with green foliage than summer or fall pruning. Prune Japanese boxwoods in early spring before new growth begins to extend past the blooms, usually by mid-March or April

Propagation and Growth

Japanese Boxwood growth rate is a slow-growing shrub that can go for years without needing to be propagated. The Japanese boxwood bushlets will send up new shoots from the roots, and these young stems are often used as hedging plants or cuttings taken to propagate more Japanese boxwoods. If you want Japanese boxwoods that are different from the original Japanese boxwood, you will need to propagate new Japanese boxwoods by taking cuttings or layering.


Japanese Boxwoods should be repotted every few years, typically when they are six inches tall. The Japanese boxwood will need approximately a gallon of soil and the pot size must be at least two to three times wider than the root ball. Gardeners can water Japanese boxwood with rainwater or natural, non-toxic fertilizer.

Plant Disease

Japanese boxwood is prone to a number of plant diseases. Some of these include chlorosis, jasmine weevil infestation, and the Japanese beetle pest. All can be managed with proper care and upkeep.

The Japanese beetles are attracted to Japanese boxwoods for their tasty leaves. To keep them away, coat Japanese boxwood leaves with a layer of sticky substance such as Tanglefoot or tree seal.

Chlorosis is caused by an iron deficiency that affects the leaf color and overall health. Be sure to regularly fertilize japanese boxwoods for best results.

Jasmine weevil infestation occurs when jasmine japonica is planted near Japanese boxwoods. The jasmine weevil lays its eggs on jasmine then, which hatch and burrow into the bark of nearby Japanese boxwood trees. Spray insecticide to kill the adult insects before they can lay their eggs next season.

Japanese beetles infest Japanese boxwoods, jasmine japonica, and other plants.

japanese boxwood

Japanese Boxwood Variegated

Variegated Japanese boxwood is a type of this plant that has lighter green leaves with white or cream stripes. Variegations are usually caused by genetic mutation but can also be the result of injury to the tree. This type Japanese boxwood does not mind being cut back and tends to grow faster than many other types. It is also hardier than the straight type japanese boxwood. Variegated japanese boxwoods are a relatively new variety of this plant and they have been gaining popularity because of their beautiful coloration which makes them stand out in landscapes.

Variegated Japanese boxwood can be found at most garden centers, wholesale nurseries, or online retailers. Variegated Japanese boxwoods are a relatively new variety so they will not be as cheap as other types of Japanese boxwood plants but their beauty make them worth the investment for many people who want to add some color to their landscapes.

Variegated Japanese boxwood trees tend to grow quickly, so they will need more attention than some Japanese boxwood plants. The variegated Japanese boxwoods are not as robust and hardy as the regular type of Japanese boxwood tree, but their beautiful stripes make them a favorite for many people who want something different in their gardens.

Common Issues with Japanese Boxwood

It is common for Japanese boxwood to have some sort of disease or pest. The most common issue with Japanese boxwoods is plants that are infested by nematodes, which causes the Japanese boxwood leaves to curl upwards and eventually die.

Another problem is a fungus called anthracnose can affect Japanese boxwoods. This will cause Japanese boxwood leaves to wilt and turn brown in color with black spots on the leaf blades.

Tips for Keeping Japanese Boxwood Happy

Japanese boxwood is a beautiful hedge that can be grown in many different climates. With proper care it will flourish and provide you with privacy while adding beauty to your surrounding environment. Here are some tips!

  • Keep Japanese boxwoods away from other plants that may be prone to root rot.
  • Apply mulch in winter for frost protection.
  • Trim Japanese boxwood back every year, just after the first flowering and before new growth begins.
  • Keep Japanese boxwoods well watered during dry periods to avoid leaf scorch. Japanese Boxwoods need water as soon as their soil feels like it is drying out or if they have wilted leaves and Japanese boxwoods.
  • Japanese Boxwood has a natural tendency to lose its lower branches, which can make them susceptible to dieback because the trunk isn’t as strong. Prune Japanese boxwoods of any dead or damaged branches that are near the ground level annually for best results.

japanese boxwood

Japanese Boxwood Frequently Asked Questions

How big do Japanese boxwoods get?

Japanese boxwood’s growth rate is from less than a foot to over 60 feet tall. The height depends on the type of Japanese boxwood and the environment it is in.

In general, Japanese boxwoods are slow-growing shrubs so they take a while to get this big! But don’t worry, these plants are hardy and Japanese boxwoods can live for over one hundred years.

Does Japanese Boxwood need full sun?

Japanese boxwood is a tough tree that can withstand drought, but it also needs to be protected from full sun. Some Japanese boxwoods are much more sensitive than others and will show signs of damage when they get too hot or if the leaves turn brown quickly.

Can Japanese Boxwood be kept small?

Japanese Boxwood is an evergreen shrub that can be kept at a manageable size by clipping it annually after the new growth has hardened. Tree-like Japanese boxwoods should be trimmed back to keep them from getting too tall and leggy, or they will look unkempt and messy.

How far apart do you plant Japanese boxwoods?

Japanese boxwoods are usually planted at a spacing of about 12-18 inches apart. This provides the Japanese boxwood with enough room to grow without becoming root-bound and crowded which can lead to weak or diseased plants. In addition, planting Japanese boxwoods too close together will make it difficult for sunlight to reach the Japanese boxwood and for the Japanese boxwoods to have enough air circulation.

Do boxwoods smell like urine?

No, Japanese boxwood does not smell like urine. The scent of Japanese boxwood is actually quite strong and can often be described as clove-like or orange tree-like. The leaves have a characteristic aroma that results from the essential oils they produce to protect themselves against insects and other pests which attack them.

The Japanese boxwood’s strong odor is one of the many characteristics that make it a popular plant to grow in both the commercial and home landscape industries. The aroma has been described as “spicy” or likes orange peel, which can be quite pleasing for some people.

Do boxwoods like sun or shade?

Japanese boxwood likes sunlight, but only if it is in the form of shade. If Japanese boxwoods are placed too far from a tree or some other natural source of shade they can scorch and ultimately die.

How to plant japanese boxwood?

Planting japanese boxwood can be done in two ways:

  • Dig a hole and plant the Japanese boxwood at the same level it was growing before. Be sure to keep the root collar moist until new growth begins; or
  • Plant Japanese boxwoods by digging a trench, layering soil and compost over Japanese boxwoods roots, and then covering Japanese boxwood with soil.


The Japanese boxwood is a classic ornamental plant that can be found in many gardens today. It has been around for centuries and it’s not hard to see why the Japanese boxwood looks great with its delicate leaves of green or variegated white stripes. But this beautiful plant needs care and attention if you want it to not only grow but also stay healthy and beautiful. Find 3 and 5 gallon Japanese boxwood for sale here. 

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