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Pruning Boxwoods

Is it too late to trim boxwoods? I saw your report on trimming and shaping shrubs and wondered when was the best time.

No, it is not too late to trim your boxwoods. I prune my boxwood hedge twice a year, once in the very early spring and again in late summer. Believe it or not, the hedge thrives from this kind of treatment.

Boxwoods are a broad-leafed evergreen – just like hollies, azaleas and rhododendrons. They’re aptly named because they’re green throughout the year and the leaves are broad as opposed to needle-like – as with evergreens such as spruce, pine or juniper.

I just remove the tall radical stems, and everywhere I make a cut, several buds will appear. They’ll grow into stems and this is how the plant eventually becomes thicker and denser.

Broad-leafed evergreens have dormant buds on their stems down close to the trunk. So when you cut back a broad-leafed evergreen, the dormant buds are activated.

On the other hand, if you’re pruning a needle type evergreen, such as Leyland cypress, you never want to cut them all the way back to the trunk or to a bare stem because they can’t recover. All of their dormant buds are in the green foliage.