How to Grow Wintergreen Boxwood

Wintergreen boxwood shrub trimmed in a rectangular form between trees and road

The Spruce / K. Dave

In This Article

Boxwoods are seen everywhere, and people usually either love or hate them. The hate comes from the pruning and maintenance that needs to be performed to keep them looking presentable. The ‘Wintergreen’ Boxwood, botanically known as Buxus sinica var. insularis ‘Wintergreen’, solves that dilemma as this cultivar has a slower growth rate.

The small, evergreen foliage is lustrous and attractive and will hold its own against the cold temperatures without suffering too many ill effects. Wintergreen boxwood should be placed so that it will not be affected by direct windburn, though as some leaf bronzing will occur.

In the landscape, the ‘Wintergreen’ is predominantly used as a hedge. The ability to be trimmed and pruned make this a fantastic selection for this use, and it shines above many of the other boxwood cultivars when combined with its trait of cold-weather hardiness.

The spring sees the Wintergreen boxwood produce insignificant yellow flowers that are not especially pleasing to the eye. What you will notice, however, is the fragrance these tiny flowers produce.

Botanical Name Buxus sinica var. insularis 'Wintergreen' Buxus microphylla var. koreana.
Common Name  Wintergreen Boxwood
Plant Type   Broadleaf evergreen
Mature Size  2 to 4 feet tall 2 to 3 feet wide
Sun Exposure  Full Sun
Soil Type  Moist, sandy loams with good drainage
Soil pH  Neutral
Bloom Time  April
Flower Color  Greenish Yellow
Hardiness Zones  4-9, USA
Native Area   China, Japan and Korea
Toxicity Toxic to pets

Wintergreen Boxwood Care

‘Wintergreen’ Boxwood is excellent for accents that help fill in around other plants in a landscape design. They create formality when pruned in a formal shape or as a hedge, but, pleasingly, with their slower growth rate, their pruning requirements are not as significant as some boxwood varieties.

Wintergreen boxwood shrub with small evergreen leaves on dense branches

The Spruce / K. Dave

Wintergreen boxwood shrub trimmed as a hedge between brick home, lines trees and road

The Spruce / K. Dave

Wintergreen boxwood shrub branches with small rounded leaves in sunlight

The Spruce / K. Dave

Light

‘Wintergreen’ Boxwood grows well in a wide range of light conditions, from full sun to partial shade.

Soil

The shrub will do okay in any soil that is not consistently wet. It prefers medium moisture in a well-drained soil that is sandy or loamy and with a neutral pH.

Water

'Wintergreen' boxwoods that have been recently planted need to receive one inch of water per week until the plant is established. After the shrub is established, minimal supplemental watering is needed.

Mulching is vital for moisture retention to guard the very shallow root system against drying out. The ‘Wintergreen’ is somewhat drought-tolerant but not for extended periods.

Temperature and Humidity

The ‘Wintergreen’ boxwood is very winter hardy, second only to 'Winter Gem' in its ability to stand up to the cold.  The perfect range for this shrub is anywhere in USDA Zones 4-9. Be sure to plant the shrub in an area well protected from cold winter winds if not used as a hedge.

Fertilizer

Every spring ‘Wintergreen’ boxwood will benefit from yearly feeding. A good fertilizer for any boxwood is a 10-6-4 mix, but only be applied if the boxwood beds have been mulched. Applying fertilizer directly to the soil can harm a boxwood’s shallow roots. 

Pruning

Like any boxwood, ‘Wintergreen’ will get unruly and spread to a height of three to five feet naturally. Some homeowners find this appealing, but most gardeners desire formal trimmed boxwood hedges. Fortunately, it takes much longer due to 'Wintergreen's' slow growth.

Pruning boxwoods set in cold climates should happen in the spring, never fall or winter. This will help achieve dense, compact growth.

During snowstorms, be sure to remove snow off shrubs as the branches may break and need to be trimmed.

Common Pests & Diseases

Be sure to clean tools properly with bleach or alcohol before and after each pruning to avoid contracting and spreading the dreaded boxwood blight. The disease is a serious fungal condition that was introduced in the United States in 2011. It is now a threat to boxwood populations across much of the country.

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