Boxwoods for Northern Climates

I grew up in the South where I loved the traditional boxwood and white dogwood. Now Montana is my home where I cherish the red twig dogwood and the many wonderful plants indigenous to the area. I’m in the process of restoring a late 1800s log cabin and yearn to see boxwood. Are there any that would survive in zone 4? I’d be thrilled to have just 1 or 2 in a microclimate, and I certainly would be willing to try, even if it meant bringing them inside on days like today (23 below). Please let me know if you have a moment. Thanks for your help. Barrie

My garden would not be complete without boxwoods. I use them to create living walls, punctuate entries and as focal points and their bright green foliage pops against the gray winter landscape. They are generally only hardy in zones 6 – 9, but there are some varieties that just might work for you.

Korean Littleleaf Boxwood (Buxus microphylla var koreana) is an extremely hardy variety. It is probably the best choice for northern areas to zone 4 and has a record of surviving down to -20 to -25 degrees F. The habit is somewhat loose and open and it grows twice as wide as it is high. The foliage turns bronze in the winter months.

If the winter bronze color is an issue, there are some boxwood varieties that may stay greener for you. Certain crosses between var koreana and sempervirens (Buxus microphylla var koreana X Buxus sempervirens) that were introduced in Canada reportedly hold their green color better in the winter. ‘Green Gem’, ‘Green Mountain’, ‘Green Mound’, and ‘Green Velvet’ are some of the variety names. Keep in mind that they may not be as cold hardy at the Korean Littleleaf Boxwood. Their hardiness wavers between zone 4 and zone 5.

Two final varieties to check out are Chicagoland Green Boxwood (Buxus ‘Glencoe’) and Northern Charm Boxwood (Buxus ‘Wilson’).