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Common boxwood forms a large shrub or small tree if left to its own devices, but most people know it as a small, densely-leaved, evergreen hedge. It originated in western Asia but is well established in the wild throughout Europe.
Description of common boxwood: The common boxwood can attain 30 feet in height, but this is rare in culture. It is a densely branched, slow-growing shrub with numerous small, smooth-edged leaves. They are usually dark green and shiny, remaining on the shrub all winter (although they are subject to browning in strong winter winds). The fragrant flowers and tiny fruit offer little of interest.
: Boxwoods grow best in full sun to deep shade and rich soils. Newly transplanted shrubs should be protected from the summer sun, and even established plants are subject to winter damage if exposed to drying winds. Mulching will help prevent damage to its shallow roots, keeping them slightly moist at all times. Boxwoods can be sheared into just about any shape and respond well to harsh pruning.
: Its evergreen nature and slow, dense growth make this shrub ideal for formal hedges and topiary. It is a good border plant and an excellent choice for foundation plantings.
Common boxwood related species: The littleleaf boxwood (Buxus microphylla) is similar but has smaller leaves. It is somewhat hardier -- to zone 4 -- with some winter protection.
Common boxwood related varieties: Numerous dwarf and standard varieties with variously colored leaves are available.
: Buxus sempervirens