As gardens move north, the most striking change is in the numbers of broad-leaf evergreens that will grow, since so many are damaged by low winter temperatures. Boxwood was brought to America by the early settlers, but the plant was found to not be very hardy, and it was only with the much later introduction of boxwood species from the Far East that hardy forms became available for cold gardens. Winter Gem Korean Boxwood is perhaps the best of those hardy forms, and is the ideal way to build a boxwood hedge, or have clipped boxwood balls, if you live in colder places.
Winter Gem Korean Boxwood is an evergreen shrub with small, glossy, rich-green leaves. It grows naturally into a mound up to 5 feet tall and 3 or 4 feet across, but it is easily clipped and is mostly seen in gardens as a clipped hedge. The more it is clipped, the denser and more compact it becomes, so that beautiful hedges anything from 12 inches to 4 feet tall can be created. These are perfect for edging beds and giving structure to your garden. They are usually used in a formal way, in straight lines, but creative gardeners also plant circles, curves and other patterns. Features like balls and small pyramids, and even cubes, can also be formed in a short time, making this a versatile plant for all kinds of gardens. For the busier gardener, unclipped boxwood naturally grow into interesting dense, rounded shrubs that are perfect for background planting to compliment more showy plants.
The most valuable feature of Winter Gem Korean Boxwood is its relative hardiness. Winters reaching minus 20 degrees do not bother it, and with a little protection it will tolerate even colder conditions. Only in the far north-east and north-central states will growth be limited by winter cold. Everywhere else, from Florida to the Great Lakes and all through the west, now you can enjoy the calm beauty of boxwood hedges and clipped specimens using this great plant.
The other great thing about Winter Gem Korean Boxwood is its versatility in different light levels and soils. It will grow well in all light levels from full sun to light full shade. Although it will even grow in deep full shade, the growth will be slower and the plants less dense. The shade from deciduous trees is easily tolerated, that from evergreens less so. As for soil, any well-drained garden soil, from sand to clay, will suit this plant just fine. Some organic material mixed into the planting soil is always appreciated, and a mulch over the roots in late fall, especially in the coldest areas, is a good idea too. In the early few years, regular watering and fertilizing will help your plants become well-established and grow rapidly into the dense hedge you are looking for. After that they are unaffected by normal summer dryness, and only need fertilizer if the leaves lose their rich green color.
The Korean boxwood, Buxus sinica, is a native of China and Korea. It has been grown in Korean, Japanese and Chinese gardens for centuries, loved for its compact form. It quickly became popular in the Northeast of the USA when gardeners there discovered that the English boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) was not very hardy and suffers in the winter anywhere colder than zone 6. The much more hardy Korean boxwood becoming very popular for that reason, and nurseries have developed even hardier forms over time. Korean boxwood is also hardier, and smaller growing, compared to the Japanese boxwood (Buxus microphylla var. japonica). ‘Winter Gem’ is a selected form of the Korean Boxwood whose exact origins have been lost. Its new growth is light green, but matures into a rich, glossy green that always looks attractive at every season. Avoid seedling forms or other unnamed varieties, which may be cheaper but will always be very much inferior to the real thing.
For a hedge, place your plants 12 to 24 inches apart, using the wider spacer for taller hedges. For a hedge under 12 inches tall, space the plants 8 inches apart. Begin to clip your boxwood almost as soon as it is planted, trimming lightly and regularly to encourage dense growth. One of the good things about Winter Gem is its natural dense growth, creating a good hedge even with light clipping. Do not clip after early fall in colder areas, and do not clip during the winter – wait until warmer weather arrives.
The Winter Gem Korean Boxwood is a very useful garden plant, whether clipped into a hedge, as specimens, or left to grow naturally. It is always a popular variety with knowledgeable gardeners, so we know that our stocks will not last long. Order now and you will soon be enjoying this top boxwood for the coldest places.