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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.