The following is an excerpt from Dave Bradford’s newsletter. He is a former Jefferson County Extension agent, and can be reached at the following websites if you need an onsite consultation.
- Pruning Boxwoods is best done this month if possible. I visited a home last week with some beautiful 6 to 7 foot Boxwoods. They had already been pruned. These plants were mostly sheared to give the shape that the homeowner wanted. I think Boxwoods look more natural pruned with hand pruners and not power shears. One point to remember about pruning is that where ever a Boxwood stem is pruned, growth in the Spring starts just below the cut. If you only use power shears across the the outside, then all the growth occurs at that point. Years of this kind of pruning often results in ‘leggy plants’ and maybe more disease issues. Shears are best used on edging type Boxwoods. The healthy way to prune may be to use hand pruners to get growth from down inside the plant and occasionally use power shears in combination to keep them at the height you want.
- Winter Dormant spraying on Boxwoods is a good practice. We use Horticultural Oil + (this year) Bifenthrin. This spray is helpful in controlling Mites, Black Twig Borer, and occasionally Scale insects. It’s not a cure all, but it’s a good practice. The problem we all have had is finding suitable weather conditions to spray.
This is a portion of Bradford Horticulture’s newsletter. Dave Bradford is a former Birmingham area extension agent. His newsletter would be a good one to sign up for if you’d like timely information for our area! (Now between Oak Street Garden Shop and the Boxwood Doctor, you should be covered!)
We have a good supply of boxwoods in now if you’re needing some for your landscape. Or, if you’d like us to order some of his boxwood fertilizer for your existing shrubs, let us know and we’ll be sure to get some for you. We also have pinestraw rolls in stock if you need some to mulch your existing or newly planted boxwoods.
There are plenty of garden projects to do in March. I talk about Boxwoods often. Last year I sent out a list entitled “Seven Deadly Sins in Caring for Boxwoods” I’m not sure you can ‘sin’ against a plant. I revised and edited that list:
Seven Deadly Mistakes in Caring for Boxwoods
- Planting Boxwoods in the wrong location. Some Boxwood varieties will tolerate a little more sun and heat, but in our area, they all like a little afternoon shade if they can get it.
- Planting Boxwoods too deep. They should be planted slightly higher than they were grown in the Nursery and it’s critical that the soil is well drained.
- Overwatering Boxwoods. Maybe the most common mistake. Put your hand down into the soil. If it’s wet, cut back on the irrigation. If it’s dry, adjust the irrigation up. Find the right schedule for your soil. Drip Irrigation is a good way to water them.
- Applying too much mulch around Boxwoods. They should have about one inch of a good clean mulch. Pine straw is an excellent mulch. Deep mulch causes the Boxwoods to root out into the mulch and that’s not good.
- Not feeding and liming Boxwoods correctly. The only way to know what they need is to soil test. Boxwoods like a soil pH of 7.0, which is higher than what most shrubs like. Boxwoods respond well to good nutrition. We have formulated a fertilizer called Boxwood Special Care (BSC). Boxwoods love this stuff and over time they generally look much darker green and healthier.
- Poor pruning of Boxwoods. They look more natural when hand pruned. Shearing to prune is best for edging type Boxwoods. Learning to do this is as much an art as it is a science.
- Failure to provide good pest management on Boxwoods. Some Boxwoods look good with no pest management, but most of them look more healthy and ‘happy’ on a regular maintenance program. Check out the website www.BoxwoodDoctor.com to learn more about our Boxwood Program. This program is not a ‘magic bullet’, but Boxwoods on some type of a pest management program tend to look better than those that are not.
Have fun in your garden.
Bradford Horticulture LLC
2004 Madison Circle
Chelsea, Alabama 35043
205 706 3413