The Buxus Sempervirans is more commonly known as Box and it is the evergreen tree that is normally grown for hedging and topiary. It is grown as a low growing hedge but it can grow to 9 meters tall. It is a very slow growing tree which is what makes it suitable for low formal hedges but it’s slow growth also makes the wood very hard so it is used in cabinet making, clarinets, tool handles and engraving. The small leaves allow for the really tight clipping that is used for topiary as it appears the surface of the hedge is a solid green wall from a short distance away. When designing a box hedge one has to decide the height that is required as this will make a difference to the spacing of the plants when planting. Basically if a low hedge is planned then the shrubs should be planted every 16cm and for taller hedges then 25cm will be better. One good thing about box is that it can be grown in most types of soil except boggy ground and will thrive in full sun or shade. When planting a hedge it is easier to dig a trench and add plenty of organic matter such as compost of leaf mould, this will allow for the plants to be put in a straight line or in any shape that is required. Once the plants are in they should be firmed in and watered. If fast results are required larger plants can be bought but the price of each plant will increase the bigger they are so it may best to be patient and let them grow naturally. As these plants are normally used for hedging they will not need hard pruning but they should be clipped over once the required height has been reached which should be done with sharp shears or topiary shears which are smaller and allow more control over the blades when clipping. Mid summer is the best time to clip he hedges and they should be cut several centimetres below the required height and allowed to grow back. Any shaping is best left to the autumn. There are several problems that can occur with Buxus and they can be infested with box tree caterpillars, red spider mite, scale insects and box sucker. Regular inspection will keep any of these problems under control. Box blight has become a problem especially in the UK and it is caused by two types of fungi Cylindrocladium buxicola and Volutella buxi. The affects are that the leave die back and turn brown. If these disease take hold then young plants should be dug out and burned
and mature trees should have all the dead wood cut out then all the branches and leaves must be collected and disposed of. The top layer of soil should also be replace, the hedge can then be sprayed with a fungicide. Some box hedges are several hundred years old so planting a hedge with this plant should be considered a long term project.
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