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Box, Common

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Box, Common Buxus sempervirens From £1.80
Box, Sweet

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Box, Sweet Sarcococca confusa From £13.98
Box, Dwarf

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Box, Dwarf Buxus sempervirens Suffruticosa From £4.32
Holly, Box-Leaf

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Holly, Box-Leaf Ilex crenata From £10.98
Holly, Box-Leaf 'Convexa'

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Holly, Box-Leaf 'Convexa' Ilex crenata 'Convexa' From £3.08

What is Box Hedging?

All three species known as Box are slow growing, so they are best used for low, formal hedges and edging, such as along paths, around a rose border, or to divide areas in a parterre.
With that said, Common Box and Box-Leaf Holly can reach up to 4-5 metres in only a few decades!

There are two species, Buxus and Ilex, that are almost indistinguishable when clipped as a hedge.

Both are slow growing and shade-tolerant, with small evergreen leaves that clip beautifully, perfect for low, ornamental hedges and edging within the garden, and topiary.

Buxus sempervirens: Common & Dwarf Box are native and (along with Yew) have been quintessential formal hedge plants for centuries, intended to be clipped with sharp edges or neat contours to provide structure.

  • Dwarf Box tops out at under a metre after several years.
  • Common Box has larger leaves and grows (very slowly) up to several metres.
  • Grows well in full shade, very hardy.
  • Requires good air flow to reduce risk of disease.

Ilex crenata: Japanese Box-Leaf Holly is a superb alternative that almost looks "too good to be Box!".
The leaves are immaculately glossy, and a touch deeper green than box: you can tell them apart by their alternating leaves along the stem, whereas Buxus has directly opposite leaves.
Convexa is the dwarf variety.

  • Immune to Box Blight & Box Moth Caterpillar.
  • Even more suitable for the North & Scotland's coldest, windiest regions.
  • Not ideal for full shade, but fine for partial shade.

Sarcococca confusa: The third species, Sweet Box, looks a lot less box-like than the others, with larger, darker leaves and a less dense habit, which doesn't lend itself so well to a really formal look, although it's also slow growing.

  • Few other shrubs grow so well in dry soil and full shade under other shrubs.
  • Its sweet smelling winter flowers make it a classic alongside shady paths.

How many Box  hedge plants do I need?

Common Box, Sweet Box, Box Leaf-Holly, and Dwarf Box Leaf-Holly sold in the larger root balled size, are all planted at 3 plants per metre (every 33cm) in a single row. 

Dwarf Box, and Dwarf Box Leaf-Holly in the smallest size, should be planted at 4 or 5 plants per metre (every 20 to 25cm) in a single row, and you can go as high as 8 per metre (every 15cm) if you want a dense hedge ASAP. 

What size Box hedge plants should I buy?

Most of our Box Hedging comes in only one or two sizes. Where there is a choice:

  • If you are not in a hurry to get a full sized box hedge, we recommend starting with the smaller size.
  • If you are in a hurry and need instant impact, or are filling gaps in an existing hedge, then of course pick the bigger size.

Smaller plants are cheaper, easier to plant, and tend to establish better because they are dug up with most of their roots intact.
You can also clip them attentively and ensure a very bushy plant from the base up.

Your Box plants are delivered by mail order direct from our nursery, along with expert advice, friendly support, plus our bareroot Guarantee, and Free Returns on all plants, so you can give them a whirl with complete confidence.

Browse our full range of Hedging Plants, or have a look at our Ornamental Shrubs.


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Should I choose Box or Box-Leaf Holly?  

If you are in the colder inland parts of the North & Scotland, or on the coast, then Box-Leaf Holly, Ilex crentata, or its dwarf variety, Convexa, are definitely the best choice. Another alternative for coastal sites are Hebes, but they are a bit larger and less formal.
Common box won't grow well right on the coast anyway, and although it is perfectly hardy, it comes out of a harsh Northern winter looking a bit sad until the new foliage comes through.

If you are planting in full shade, then Common Box or Dwarf Box will perform best, as long as there is adequate air-flow.

Common box is susceptible to two diseases that do not affect Box-Leaf Holly:

  • Box Blight Fungus: It typically only affects Common & Dwarf Box in humid places (which are more common in the South & West of England and Wales) with poor air flow.
    The risk is decreased if the box is clipped during dry weather, when the blight spores are less active.
  • Box Moth: The caterpillars only cause cosmetic damage, and can be killed with pesticide or organic controls.

Key Takeaway: 

  • Box-Leaf Holly is disease-free, grows on the coast, and performs best in the coldest regions of the UK. You can clip it any time of year, which makes it ideal for very neat formal uses & topiary.
  • Common Box is the most shade-tolerant, won't grow on the coast, and tends to experience cosmetic leaf damage in the coldest, windiest parts of the UK. 
    Clip it during winter to reduce risk of disease.

What are Sweet Box Plants Good for?

There are three big differences between Sweet Box, Sarcococca confusa, and the other two Boxes described above:

  • It has larger, less dense leaves, and so does not clip quite as nicely into perfect formal lines and curves.
  • It has very fragrant flowers. These appear in winter, when there is not much else to smell around the garden.
  • It will grow in really full shade, in dry soil under other evergreen plants, and prefers a well sheltered location.

All of those features combined give Sweet Box a special purpose, because it does not really need to be seen to be appreciated.

  • It can be used as ground cover around and under bigger plants where it receives no direct sun, and isn't really visible as you walk past.
  • In really shady, humid, sheltered areas where the other Boxes are not so ideal, it can still replace them as a low ornamental hedge
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