Boxwood are one of the most versatile shrubs for year-round interest in your landscape. They provide structure to both formal and informal gardens and come in so many shapes and sizes. Some are rounded, some low growing and spreading, some stand more upright and some are pyramidal in shape. Whatever the shape or size, there’s likely a boxwood out there for you.

So, lets take a look at the growth rate of different boxwood varieties to find the right one for you.

How fast do boxwood grow?

Overall, boxwood has a very slow growth rate that’s typically 6 inches or less per year. Boxwoods can be broken down into growth rates of slow, medium and fast — although keep in mind that even the fast growth rate of boxwood varieties is quite slow in comparison to other landscape shrubs.

  • Fast Boxwood Growth Rate = 4-6″/year
  • Medium Boxwood Growth Rate = 2-3″/year
  • Slow Boxwood Growth Rate = .5-1″/year

All of these boxwood growth rates are slow when compared with other shrubs.

Quick Tip: Learn more about the importance of evergreen shrubs, such as boxwood, in your mixed border.

Boxwood Growth Rate by Cultivar (Table)

These are estimated growth rates of boxwood by variety. I’ve also included their mature size at 15 years and 25 years, which can vary quite a bit. These are all estimates and the actual growth rates will depend on your particular conditions.

Having trouble reading all the data? You can also view this chart in Google Sheets.

NameBotanical NameZoneSunGrowth RateGrowth / YearSize at 15 years (HxW)Size at 25 years (HxW)
Baby GemBuxus microphylla japonica ‘Gregem’5-9Full Sunmedium2-3″3-3′4×4.5′
BuddyBuxus sempervirens ‘Buddy’6-8Full Sun, Part Sun, Shademedium2-3″2×2.5′2.75×3.5′
Chicagoland Green™Buxus x Chicagoland Green™ (‘Glencoe’)5-8Full Sun, Part Sun, Shademedium2-3″2×2.5′2.75×3.5′
Dee RunkBuxus sempervirens ‘Dee Runk’6-8Full Sun, Part Sun, Shademedium-fast3-6″7×2.5′10×3′
ElegantissimaBuxus sempervirens ‘Elegantissima’6-8Part Sun, Shadeslow-medium1-3″2.5×2′3.5×3′
FastigiataBuxus sempervirens ‘Fastigiata’6-8Full Sun, Part Sun, Shademedium-fast3-6″6×2’*10×2.5’*
Franklin’s GemBuxus microphylla sinica ‘Franklin’s Gem’5-8Part Sun, Shadeslow-medium1-3″1.5×3′2×4′
GlencoeBuxus hybrid ‘Glencoe’5-8Full Sun, Part Sun, Shademedium2-3″2×2.5′2.75×3.5′
Golden DreamBuxus microphylla ‘Golden Dream’6-8Full Sun, Part Sun, Shadeslow-medium1-3″3×3′4×4′
Grace Hendrick PhillipsBuxus microphylla ‘Grace Hendrick Phillips’6-8Part Sun, Shadeslow.75-1.5″1×2′1.5×3′
Graham BlandyBuxus sempervirens ‘Graham Blandy’5-9Full Sun, Part Sun8×1.5′9×2′
Green BeautyBuxus microphylla var. japonica ‘Green Beauty’6-8Full Sun, Part Sun, Shademedium2-4″3×3′4.5×5′
Green GemBuxus hybrid ‘Green Gem’5-8Full Sun, Part Sun, Shademedium2-3″2×2′2.75×2.75′
Green MoundBuxus hybrid ‘Green Mound’5-8Full Sun, Part Sun, Shademedium2-3″2.25×2.25′3×3′
Green MountainBuxus hybrid ‘Green Mountain’4-9Full Sun, Part Sun, Shademedium-fast2-4″3.5×2.5′5×3.5′
Green PillowBuxus microphylla ‘Green Pillow’5-8Part Sun, Shadeslow.75-1″1.25×1.5′2×3′
Green VelvetBuxus hybrid ‘Green Velvet’5-8Full Sun, Part Sun, Shademedium2-3″2×2.5′2.75×3.5′
HarlandBuxus harlandii7-9Part Sun, Shadeslow-medium1-3″2.25×2′3×2.75′
insularis NanaBuxus sinica var. insularis ‘Nana’6-8Part Sun, Shadeslow-medium1-3″1.5×3′2×4′
JensenBuxus sempervirens ‘Jensen’6-8Part Sun, Shadeslow-medium1-2″2.25×2′3×3′
Jim StaufferBuxus microphylla var. japonica ‘Jim Stauffer’5-8Full Sun, Part Sun, Shademedium-fast2.5-5″3.25×3′5×5′
John BaldwinBuxus microphylla ‘John Baldwin’6-8Full Sun, Part Sun, Shademedium2-3″3.5×2.5′6×4′
Justin BrouwersBuxus sempervirens ‘Justin Brouwers’6-8Full Sun, Part Sun, Shadeslow-medium1-3″2×2.25′3×3.5′
Little MissyBuxus microphylla ‘Little Missy’5-9Full Sun, Part Sun, Shadeslow-medium1.5-3″2×2′3×3′
Morris DwarfBuxus microphylla var. japonica ‘Morris Dwarf’6-8Part Sun, Shadevery slow.5-1″1×1.25′1.5×2.25′
Morris MidgetBuxus microphylla var. japonica ‘Morris Midget’6-8Part Sun, Shadevery slow.5-1″1×1′1.5×2′
North StarBuxus sempervirens ‘North Star’5-9Full Sun, Part Sun, Shade2.5×2.5′3×3′
Northern CharmBuxus ‘Wilson’4–9Full Sun, Part SunFast4-6″3.5×4′4×5′
RichardBuxus harlandii ‘Richard’7-9Part Sun, Shadeslow-medium1-3″1.75×2′2.5×3′
sempervirens (American)Buxus sempervirens (American boxwood)5-8Full Sun, Part Sun, Shademedium-fast3-5″4×3.5′6×5.5′
SprinterBuxus microphylla ‘Sprinter’5-9Full Sun, Part Sun, Shadefast4-6″2-3’x2-3′4’x4′
Suffruticosa (English)Buxus sempervirens ‘Suffruticosa’ (English Boxwood)6-8Part Sun, Shadeslow-medium1-2″2.25×2′3×3′
Vardar ValleyBuxus sempervirens ‘Vardar Valley’5-8Full Sun, Part Sun, Shadeslow-medium1-3″1.5×3′2.5×5′
Wedding RingBuxus microphylla var. koreana5-9Full Sun, Part Sun, Shademedium3-4″1×2′3×4′
Winter GemBuxus microphylla japonica ‘Winter Gem’6-8Full Sun, Part Sun, Shadefast4-6″3.5×3.5′5×5′
WintergreenBuxus microphylla var. japonica ‘Wintergreen’5-8Full Sun, Part Sun, Shadefast4-6″3.5×3.5′5×5′
Having trouble reading all the data? You can also view this chart in Google Sheets.
Boxwood specimen comparison drawing.
Illustration from National Boxwood Trials Report (2011) shows the shape and size of many popular boxwood at 15 years old. Shapes will vary with intensity and intent of pruning as the plant grows to maturity.

Are boxwood susceptible to any diseases or pests?

When choosing a boxwood, it’s important to think about it’s resistance or susceptibility to any diseases or pests.

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Boxwood Diseases

Phytophthora (root rot)

This is a fungus that’s common when boxwood is grown in heavy, poor draining soil. It’s difficult to treat once its visibly present (foliage turns light green, then brown, then straw color). Root rot will weaken and eventually kill the boxwood.

Volutella buxi (stem blight)

Often a secondary infection after something has weakened or injured the boxwood. Volutella is a fungus usually affecting one limb at a time. This looks similar to winter burn, as foliage will turn bronze, then red, then yellow. The difference is the boxwood will not recover with fresh growth in spring. Cankers will form on branches and bark will peel off. Fungicides can help to treat stem blight.

Boxwood Decline

Only affects English boxwood. Some believe boxwood decline is a single disease, while others believe it is the result of many negative factors that descend on and eventually kill a boxwood.

Cylindrocladium (boxwood blight)

Found in Europe in 1990’s and introduced to the U.S. in 2011. Box blight is caused by a fungus (Cylindrocladium buxicola) with heavy, sticky spores that attack the foliage. Infected leaves fall of the plant in a matter of a week or so. Stems near infected leaves will develop streaked black stem lesions or cankers.

Boxwood blight only affects plants in the Buxaceae family including Buxus (boxwood), Sarcococca (sweet box) and Pachysandra (spurge). While there are multiple fungicides that may help prevent blight, none are considered curative at this time. Learn more about boxwood blight here.

How fast do boxwoods grow?
When choosing a boxwood, it’s important to think about it’s resistance or susceptibility to any diseases or pests.

Boxwood Pests

Leafminer

The primary pest of the boxwood. Over the period of several years, a lightly-infested plant can become discolored, yellowish-brown, and even defoliated. The good news is that there are effective control options to manage leafminer. Learn more about leafminer here.

Psyllid

Occurs wherever boxwood are found, usually emerging in mid-April or at the start of new growth. Leaf damage is mostly superficial and ultimately won’t kill the plant.

Spider Mites

Can be very small and difficult to see. If you suspect boxwood mites, try gently hitting a branch over a piece of white paper to help you see them. Mite damaged leaves appear to have tiny white spots and marks on them. Damage is superficial if you handle it properly. Over time, if the mite population becomes to great, mites can do extensive damage.

Wildlife

Boxwood contains alkaloids that are toxic to deer and humans. Its pungent odor will typically keep deer at bay.

Boxwood Blight Tolerance and Leafminer Resistance by Cultivar (Table)

NameBlight TolerantLeafminer Resistance
Baby Gem
BuddySomewhatYes
Chicagoland Green™SomewhatNo
Dee RunkYesSomewhat
ElegantissimaNoSomewhat
FastigiataYesSomewhat
Franklin’s GemYesYes
GlencoeSomewhatNo
Golden DreamYesYes
Grace Hendrick PhillipsNoYes
Graham BlandyYes
Green BeautyYesNo
Green GemSomewhatNo
Green MoundSomewhatNo
Green MountainSomewhatNo
Green PillowNoYes
Green VelvetSomewhatNo
HarlandYesYes
insularis NanaYesYes
JensenNoSomewhat
Jim StaufferYesSomewhat
John BaldwinYesNo
Justin BrouwersNoNo
Little MissyYesSomewhat
Morris DwarfNoYes
Morris MidgetNoSomewhat
North starYes
Northern Charm
RichardYesYes
sempervirens (American)YesSomewhat
SprinterYes
Suffruticosa (English)NoYes
Vardar ValleySomewhatYes
Wedding Ring
Winter GemYesYes
WintergreenYesSomewhat
Having trouble reading all the data? You can also view this chart in Google Sheets.

Wrapping Up

Overall, there are many, many varieties of boxwood to choose from. They range in size from very small, rounded shrubs to varieties that grow in columnar shapes. It’s important to know that boxwood are very slow growers. Even the fastest growing varieties only put on 6″ of new growth per year. Like most plants and shrubs, boxwood are susceptible to several diseases and pests. The biggest threats to look out for are boxwood blight and leafminer.

Be aware that this isn’t an exhaustive list of all boxwood. There are even more varieties available in a variety of shapes and sizes. What’s your favorite boxwood? I have Norther Charm and Winter Gem boxwood in my front landscape and I think they’re beautiful evergreens that add great backbone structure to the landscape.

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Boxwood growth rate and size by variety
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What Blooms with What?

Never know what to plant together? Find out with this FREE Plant Pairing Guide and become a pro at combining plants for the best garden design possible!

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