Kingsville Boxwood - Buxus sp.
General Information: Boxes are densely branched shrubs native to Europe and Asia. A hedge steeped in history, box sprigs have been found in the tombs of Romans. It is widely used as a hedge plant, and is a common topiary subject. Most varieties of box are marked by a distinctive "foxy" smell which some find distasteful. The box is an important plant commercially, as it is one of the few woods heavier than water, and is thus used for making woodcuts and precision instruments.
Most boxes are grown as hardy bonsai, but the Harland box has been successfully grown as an indoor plant. Box is very popular for bonsai due to its tiny leaves and flowers and its tolerence for extensive pruning and shaping. One note of caution: box leaves are poisonous, and eating even a few can kill a small pet.
Lighting: Boxwood are not particular. Sun or shade both work well. Buxus harlandii prefers shade or semi-shade, and has an indoor light requirement of only 800 Lux.
Temperature: Hardiness depends on variety, but boxwoods need protection from frost and cold winds even when grown in the proper climate. In the summer, box appreciates fresh air.
Watering: Moderate, but does not like wet soil. Allow the box to dry somewhat between waterings.
Feeding: Every two weeks during growth. Harland Box, every 20-30 days. Use a liquid bonsai fertilizer with one application of pulverized organic fertilizer during active growth. Fertilize with general purpose fertilizer.
Pruning and wiring: Growth on the dwarf varieties can be very slow. Box can be wired at any time. It is tolerant of radical treatments, such as jin, shari and being grown root over rock. Fine bonsai material may frequently be pillaged from old hedges. Leaves may turn reddish brown in winter. Control shape by thinning and by pinching off most of unwanted new growth.
Propagation: By division in spring, or from hardwood cuttings taken in late summer or autumn. Air-layering is also possible.
Repotting: Every two years. Spring is the best time, but as box is a broadleaf evergreen, there is more leeway with appropriate times to repot than with deciduous trees. It can be repotted in summer and autumn if need be, but avoid repotting during very hot weather or during a growth spurt. Use basic bonsai soil. Box dislikes acid soil, and the use of limestone in the soil mix or adding an occasional dose of lime to the soil is recommended. Soil must be well drained.
Pests and diseases: Nematodes, mites and leaf miners, blackfly, greenfly, and red spider mites. Although box is very disease resistant, honey fungus and rust are sometimes seen!
Species and Types of Trees used for Bonsai:
seBuxus harlandii, Buxus microphylla (our favorite), Buxus microphylla 'compacta' dwarf and buxus sinica.
Tomlinson's "Complete Book of Bonsai"
Samsons' "Creative Art of Bonsai"
Ainsworth's "Art of Indoor Bonsai"
Lesniewicz's "Bonsai in Your Home"
Species information in general is from Mitchell's "American Nature Guides: Trees," "The Hearst Garden Guide to Trees and Shrubs," and Coats' "Garden Shrubs and Their Histories."
Florida Bonsai XX:4:33
Florida Landscape Plants by Watkins, pg. 233