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Factors to Consider While Planting Winter Gem Boxwoods

Samarpita Choudhury Mar 21, 2020
In winters, nature follows hibernation and dormancy. Therefore, to have a colorful garden may not be the easiest of things, but certainly, it is not an impossibility either. Winter Gem Boxwood is one of the ideal choices to add a dash of green to the prolonged yellow of the winter. Read ahead to know more.

The Maiden Gem

The very first time when America grew Winter Gem Boxwood was way back in 1653!
Known as an evergreen ornamental shrub, Winter Gem Boxwood is scientifically termed as Buxus microphylla var. japonica. Some also call it as Buxus microphylla var. koreana and more commonly known as Japanese Boxwood or simply, Winter Gem.
This tiny plant is known for its smooth leaves that are oval-shaped, and together form the rich, green foliage of the shrub. The leaves may feel leathery to touch. Pruning and trimming the leaves can enable one to have a desirable shape. The most common shape is dome-shaped Winter Gems.
These plants usually attain a size of about 3 - 4 ft tall. This variety of evergreens can continue to make your garden area green, for as close to 30 years at the least maintenance cost and effort. All it needs is the right conditions to grow and flourish.
The plant is believed to be a native of Asia, but opinions are ripe that it is actually a hybrid of the other boxwood species. These rounded, dwarf plants display a greenish-bronze color during the winters and exhibit a green hue during spring.
They serve as border plants alongside pathways, edges, and hedges. They grow well as container plants and fillers too. They can put up a catchy display when grown as a backdrop for bright-colored flowering plants. If you intend to grow Winter Gem Boxwood in your yard this winter, read the factors that are to be considered for planting them.

First Things First

✦ The first thing to know is the zone you need. Winter Gems grow at USDA hardiness zones of 5 - 9.
✦ Before planting the plant into the soil, preparing the area is advised. For this, dig a deep pit and stuff it with some compost.
✦ Now, since these plants are grown along the borders and edges, they are grown in a cluster.
✦ Therefore, it is important to plant them at the right distance for best results. Depending on the thickness of the hedge you want, you can vary the distance of the holes between 3 - 6 feet apart, and even more, considering the density you desire.
✦ Once the pits are dug, place the boxwood plants into the soil. Seal it by gently pressing the soil against the plants.
✦ Sufficiently water the plants, taking care of proper drainage. Spread a layer of mulch evenly.
NOTE: The soil and the mulch layer are very important for the healthy growth of the plant. But if the roots are too close to them, it can cause discoloration of the leaves as these plants prefer moist soil with proper drainage. Water clogging is a hindrance to their growth. This ensures that the moisture in the soil is retained.

Factors To Consider


They grow well in full sunlight and partial shade. If you plan to grow them under larger tree canopies, go ahead! This does wonders to the Winter Gem.
But the morning and the afternoon sun is not liked by the plant. It is so dangerous that the bark of the plant may split. These hardy shrubs can withstand temperatures of up to -20 to -25°F.


Frequent watering, more precisely, weekly watering of the plant for about 3 - 4 times is suggested. The newly planted ones require even more water supply for the initial growing weeks, ranging from four to six weeks.
Roots of Winter Gem are shallow; therefore, they require moisture to grow, but standing water is not good for the roots because the roots are unable to absorb all the water, and suffer from problems pertaining to excess water. In winters, snowing is common. Therefore, brush off the snow and ice layers from the leaves to prevent them from significant damage.


The best time to add fertilizers to your Winter Gem is during mid-October and March. Winter Gems exhibit noteworthy growth when supported with the right kind and quantity of fertilizers. But the only cause of concern is that too much of direct exposure of the roots to fertilizers can cause some harm to your dearest plants.
A good fertilizer mix of potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorous meets the nitrogen requirements of the plant, and protects it from having yellow leaves. Always bear in mind to maintain the correct moisture and mulch levels before adding the fertilizers.


This is as healthy a practice to follow for Winter Gems, as it is for the other shrubs. This results in excellent growth of the plant, and allows it to have wonderful shapes, keeping the infections and damage away.
Pruning results in the best results if done during spring. Usually, the Winter Gems have an inherent 'rounded' shape. But, to add your desired shapes, you can trim, prune, and shear it freely without the threat of upsetting its natural growth.


The basic need of the Winter Gem is a well-drained soil. But this variety responds well to drought for sometime. However, extended dry periods will do more harm than good, causing fatal growth of plants. The texture of the soil can be sandy. The pH level can be acidic to alkaline, between 6-7. The soil should remain moist, but the drainage should be good.

Pests And Diseases

The pests are the only problems that can mar the beauty of your Winter Gem. The common ones that have been noted are psyllids, leaf miner, and mites.

Psyllids can cause the leaves to curl. They can be controlled by using insecticides.
Fungal diseases can be avoided by cutting the dead parts of the plant.
Leaf miner is the most common disease that can inflict your Winter Gems. The affected plants can have yellow spots, and the size of the affected leaves may become smaller than the healthy ones. Spraying insecticides over the plant frees it from these insects.

Cause Of Alarm

If you notice the stem turning orange in color, know that your plant is standing in excessive water, which is the cause behind root rot.

With due consideration to the proper time of trimming, watering, light, Winter Gem Boxwood plants are a treat to the eye.