I planted tons of boxwood cuttings many years ago, and my, how they grew! Those cuttings today are enormous plants that I annually shear into hedge forms. Like all boxwood, the shrubs over time have developed a dense, green exterior — and a sparse (okay, nearly naked) interior. A special pruning technique known as “thinning” will restore the plants to luxurious good health:
Thinning is easy to do! Grab your hand pruners…
Reach into a shrub…
And cut out branches!
Never cut a branch below its first set of leaves. Pictured above is a branch I cut too far down.
This where the cut should have been made.
Is your boxwood large, like mine? Plan to remove 10-percent of the branches from each shrub.
Of course, the removal of branches will produce small holes in the shrubs. And that’s a good thing! Sunlight will reach the interior of each shrub, and encourage lots of fresh green growth.
What to do with your mountain of cut boxwood stems? Well, if you accomplish your thinning work in spring, the cut stems can be turned into new plants. Click here to watch me propagate boxwood.
Then again, if you thin your shrubs in winter, you can include the cut pieces in your holiday decorations!
Boxwood can be thinned any time of the year. But if you live in a very cold climate, like mine, you should probably do the bulk of your work while the plants are actively growing. I tackled two of my eight hedges back in December, before the snow arrived.
When, at last, the snow melts and the ground thaws, I’ll finish the thinning work.
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