When most of us think about boxwood, we see rich green hedges or specimens clipped into balls or cones. The green makes a neutral backdrop to other more colorful shrubs and flowers. However, boxwood does not begin and end with green. The Variegated Boxwood gives us the exciting possibility of color in our clipped plants, and contrast with other shrubs, or with flowering plants.
There are several types of boxwood with colored leaves available for the garden, but Variegated Boxwood is top of any list, for its brilliant gold coloring that really brings a lift to your planting. This plant develops into an upright evergreen shrub that may reach 8 feet tall and 4 feet across, if left unclipped. With that height potential it is a great subject for clipping into pyramids and cones, as well as large balls. It can also be planted as a tall hedge. Because of its bright gold leaves, this is a fantastic accent plant with other boxwoods. For example, you could have gold pillars at the corners of your green boxwood hedge, or gold balls among green balls in the foundation planting around your house.
Growing Variegated Boxwoods
Variegated Boxwood is at its most colorful in spring. The new growth is a bright golden yellow, and turns the whole plant into a glowing beacon in the garden. Over summer the color slowly changes into a mottled green and yellow, and in winter it becomes a soft yellow-green. New growth encouraged by clipping will be bright yellow. Each time you see this plant through the seasons it will be a little different, bringing variety and interest to your garden.
It will develop naturally into an upright, evergreen bush, eventually reaching about 8 feet tall, and only 4 feet wide. Left unclipped it is an attractive and colorful addition to the garden, among other shrubs and small trees. It can be used in foundation plantings around your home, and it is dense enough and neat enough to be attractive without any clipping needed.
Most gardeners will want to clip their Variegated Boxwood into a pyramid or cone, or perhaps into a large ball. Like all boxwoods, it clips easily and become denser and denser the more it is clipped. It only needs a couple of trimmings a year to keep in looking perfect, but an extra clip or two will give you a perfect, formal look.
Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions
Plant your Variegated Boxwood in a sunny place for the strongest leaf color, although this plant will grow well in partial shade, and even quite dark places. Prepare the soil well before planting by adding some rich organic material to it, and keep your young plants well-watered until they become established. If you want to clip your plants, do it in late winter before the new growth appears, and again in summer once the new foliage has matured. Clipping will encourage new growth of the brightest color. Use a fertilizer for evergreen plants as directed, for the strongest and healthiest growth. Boxwood has few significant pests, and it is usually not even eaten by deer.
History and Origins of the Variegated Boxwood
American boxwood, Buxus sempervirens, originated in Europe and England, but it has been grown in American since colonial times, so it is well-established as a basic for American gardens. It is a medium-sized evergreen shrub with small, rounded or oblong leaves that are evergreen and an attractive rich green color. It grows well in milder areas and thrives with regular watering and fertilizer. It is widely used for hedges and clipped specimens.
The origin of the Variegated Boxwood, called ‘Aureo-variegata’, is lost, but this plant is popular with knowledgeable gardeners for its bright golden leaves. An unusual plant like this cannot be grown from seed, and our growers take stem pieces from the best plants with the brightest coloring. They carefully root them and grow them into healthy and robust plants that will quickly establish themselves in your garden and become real favorites.