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Boxwood Bonsai Care Guide for Beginners

Growing your garden can be exciting, but concern arises when we have to care for them. 

Don’t worry; we are here to help. Here is the ultimate guide to caring for your bonsai trees!

Let’s begin with an easy variety- boxwood bonsai. The hardy trunk and easy adaptability make these boxwood bonsai trees a beginner-friendly addition to your bonsai garden.

Do you know that the boxwood bonsai gives the perfect vibe of a realistic, fully grown tree? Its rough trunk and small leaves that grow in a gnarled fashion will decorate your indoors.

The plant adores a weathered appearance and great tolerance to styling techniques like pruning and wiring to make things easy. So, with very little effort, you can grow this amazing plant and enjoy its company for many years to come.

Boxwood Bonsai Tree Specification

To begin with, let us understand the characteristics and features the boxwood plant exhibits. These specifications will help us develop tailored growing conditions to achieve optimal growth in the bonsai plant. Here is the list of brief specifications for boxwood bonsai trees.

Botanical nameBuxus sempervirens
Common nameboxwood, common box, or European box
DescriptionThe boxwood bonsai is characterized by the presence of tiny leathery leaves, rough bark, and dense foliage. They are mostly found in regions of Europe, northwest Africa, southwest Asia and the north Mediterranean upto Turkey.
Height3 – 6 feet
Width1 – 2 feet
Sunlight 3 – 4 hours of sunlight, either indoor or outdoor 
WateringWater abundantly in summer until the soil is wet. Reduce watering intervals during the cold seasons. Avoid making the sil soggy by overwatering.
FertilizingUse regularly all-purpose liquid fertilizer once a month. Avoid over-fertilization.
Pruning timePrune during mid-spring when new growth occurs
Repotting timeYoung plants (less than 5 or 6 years old) must be repotted every 2 yearsOlder plants can be repotted every 4 years after that
Life span20 – 30 years
NoteBoxwood trees are evergreen, long-living plants famous for hedges and topiary.

Shopping for a flowering bonsai online can offer a convenient way to find and purchase a beautiful miniature tree. Many reputable online retailers offer a wide variety of species and sizes to choose from, such as Azalea, Cherry Blossom, and Wisteria. However, it’s important to research the specific care requirements of your chosen tree to ensure it thrives and blooms beautifully in your environment.

Types of Boxwood Bonsai

You will find around 70 different types of boxwood trees grown all around the globe, but they are majorly classified into two types, namely,

  • The Chinese boxwood and
  • The European common boxwood

Though both species share many things in common, it’s vital to understand their specific differences to care for them properly.

The Chinese boxwood

The Chinese boxwood can be grown indoors, though it’s preferable to leave them outdoors during warm climate seasons. 

Never let the plants stay outside during the winter and cold seasons; instead, place them somewhere warm indoors. Check for a minimum of 10 degrees Celsius.

The Chinese variety does not go dormant during winter. So kindly remember to care for and fertilize the plant even during the cold season.

The European common boxwood

Named after its commonly found location, the European boxwood is widespread as shrubs in England and other parts of European regions.

They are easy to train and grow rapidly compared to other Chinese varieties.

A major advantage that European species have over the Chinese species is their resistance to frost. So you can leave these bonsai outdoors, though avoid freezing them. Instead, shift to a warmer place during winters.

They stay dormant during winters, so you can be carefree about fertilizing them during the cold season. They hold back their leaves for dying but might turn them pale or yellow. It later regains its color once spring begins.

Boxwood Bonsai Care Guide

Even though the boxwood is famous for its beginner-friendly caring, regular maintenance is necessary to ensure you grow a healthy bonsai. Let’s discuss various factors you might consider when caring for your boxwood bonsai.

Placement

Where should you place your boxwood bonsai? To answer this, you must know which species of boxwood bonsai you grow. 

It would be best to place the common boxwood in the sunlight or semi-shaded area. Please provide them with winter protection to avoid freezing the plant when kept outside.

You can place the Chinese boxwood indoors, near a window or warm space, provided the temperature is a minimum of 10 degrees Celsius.

Watering

Watering a boxwood bonsai is similar to any regular bonsai.

Don’t water so little that the soil dries out its moisture, but also avoid overwatering the plant so that the soil becomes soggy.

There are two ways you can water your bonsai, either the top watering or the bottom watering.

Bottom watering is when you hydrate your bonsai by placing a tray of water beneath your bonsai, allowing the roots to absorb the water for 10-15minutes, and removing the plant from the water container. Gradually the roots would have absorbed the needed water and drained the excess.

The other water method will be the top watering technique, where you check the soil’s moisture and add water until it seeps through the bottom potholes in the bonsai pot. Then, carefully pour the water and avoid flooding the pot.

Fertilizing

Boxwood needs to be fertilized with solid organic all-purpose fertilizers every month. Or use a liquid fertilizer every week during the growing season. 

Avoid fertilizing the boxwood during the winter season, as they stay dormant. However, if you grow Chinese boxwood, you might consider fertilizing your bonsai with solid fertilizers once a month during winter.

Fertilize the plant when you repot them with ⅓ of soil with compost and mix 1-2 cups of solid organic all-purpose fertilizers. You maintain soil fertility when you fertilize the soil every time you report.

Pruning and wiring

The evergreen leaves of the boxwood bonsai need winter protection like any other bonsai when the temperature reaches the freezing point. In addition, boxwood needs regular pruning throughout the year to care for and grow into the desired bonsai plant. 

Pruning and wiring are two techniques used to style the boxwood. They give them the ideal shape and style. Major pruning activity can be done during the mid-spring when new growth occurs.

Here is our boxwood bonsai care guide to effectively prune your bonsai,

  1. Prepare the pruning tools

Always clean the scissor blades and concave cutters with a solution of bleach and water (1:9 ratio). Wash and dry the tools before use. Don’t forget to clean them again after you cut any infected branch or move to prune another bonsai plant using the same tools. 

  1. Trim the damaged branches

Look for infectious branches and trim them. Use the concave cutters to take off the branches from the base of the trunk or its primary branch.

  1. Style your bonsai

Rotate the plant a full 360-degrees to check the shape and appearance of the bonsai. Carefully plan which branch to remove and style your boxwood in a desirable fashion

  1. Cut the overlapping branches

Sometimes the new branches overlap or cross over the existing branch; in such cases, it’s better to cut off such new branches. Also, remove the branches that grow parallel to one another or grow adjacent to one another in the same trunk. This encourages an alternating branching habit.

  1. Remove 50% of new growth every year.

Trimming close by branches encourages more light and air to reach the inside portions of the plants. Boxwood generally has dense growth, so the target is to remove 50% of the new growth every year to control the shape and growth of the plant.

Repotting

It would be best to practice repotting the boxwood bonsai every 2 or 5 years, depending on whether the plant is young or old. Plants 5 or 6 years old are considered young and must be repotted every 2 or 3 years, and you can repot plants older every 5 – 6 years. 

Add fertilized soil while repotting, and refrain from adding any extra fertilizers for the next month or two. Overfertilization can stress the roots. Pruning unnecessary roots is also advisable to maintain the stability of the plant. 

Propagation

Boxwood bonsai can be propagated using seeds and cuttings. However, the seed method will need more time, investment, and patience to achieve the desired results. Here is a brief of both methods to help you propagate a boxwood bonsai tree.

Propagating boxwood bonsai from seeds

You can buy boxwood seeds from your native nursery or any online store. However, things get problematic sometimes when these boxwood seeds are sterile. To check whether the seeds are fertile, you can use a glass water experiment. 

  1. Place the seed in a glass of water
  2. Check whether the seeds float or sink
  3. Collect the seeds that sink
  4. And throw away the seeds that float 

Only the fertile seeds capable of germinating will sink, so use this test to choose the best fertile seed to grow your boxwood bonsai.

Now that the perfect seeds are found, let’s germinate them!

  • Take a plastic container and fill it with organic soil.
  • Hydrate the soil with water, just enough to moisten them
  • Now place the fertile seeds inside the container at an inch depth. At a time, add only two or three seeds per plastic container.
  • Close the container and refrigerate for two months
  • Moisten the soil regularly during the two-month phase
  • After two months, place the container in a warm location in your garden to allow the seeds to sprout.
  • Once you see sprouts relocate the container to a warm semi-shaded location

After a while, the sprouts will grow the taproot and small leaves. Let them stay in a shaded area until the seedlings grow 4 inches in height- the perfect time to remove the healthy sapling and replant them.

  • Choose a small shallow bonsai pot to start growing your bonsai. Check for the bottom and side holes in the pot to drain excess water. 
  • Fill the pot with the coarse substrate at the bottom and pack the rest of the pot with the bonsai soil from the seedling container.
  • Dig a hole, plant a healthy seedling picked from the plastic container, carefully replant and leave the roots intact
  • Fill the remaining container with the bonsai soil and moisten them. 
  • Water the plant regularly until they grow into a sturdy stem (usually about a year), after which you can start pruning the plant to grow your bonsai boxwood tree.

Propagating boxwood bonsai from cuttings

If you are searching for quicker propagation methods, you can try propagating by cuttings, unlike the seedling method, which might take months to propagate. Harvest stems from healthy boxwood trees and propagates them to get quicker results.

Pests and diseases

Boxwood plants are liable for different diseases like box blight (a fungal disease), scale, boxwood leafminer, nematodes, etc. Take professional help and use disease-specific pesticides to get rid of the infections.

Pests, boxwood moths, and caterpillars can quickly defoliate your bonsai plant. If found, the long green caterpillars can be hand-picked from the plant, or you can use neem oil to keep these pests away.

Conclusion

Boxwood bonsai trees have a robust appearance and add amazing realistic value to your bonsai garden. However, given the bonsai plants can withstand heavy pruning and the wiring, basic care and maintenance are mandatory to grow any plant. Use our boxwood bonsai care guide to care for and grow your boxwood bonsai tree to be a perfect companion for years to come.

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