How to Revive a Buxus Plant

Buxus hedge plants (known also as box hedges and boxwood shrubs) are ideal for many gardeners; they are tolerant and durable, and they can be easily trimmed into any desired shape. However, if not watered frequently or left unattended, Buxus plants can begin to die or become inundated with disease. 

Whether you can revive your dying boxwood shrub highly depends on the reason it is dying. We will detail some of the common reasons a Buxus plant may be dying and provide solutions for them – diagnosing the problem as soon as possible maximises the chances of successfully reviving your Buxus plant.

There are a number of things you can do to revive a dying Boxwood shrub, including:

  • Ensuring the right planting conditions for your Buxus plant
  • Regular pruning after cold winters
  • Checking your branches are aired
  • Looking out for diseases and pests and treating them

Let’s get into it!

Are the Planting Conditions right for Boxwood?

Your Buxus plant may be dying because it’s not planted in the right location. Buxus requires partial shade and protection from high winds (they do not fare well in bright sun or windy conditions).

When conditions are extremely dry during a hot summer, for example, it is easy for Boxwood to become deprived of water. Your hedge should be watered regularly so the soil is moist. Depending on the weather, if you soak the soil every two days the soil should remain wet and promote growth.

Mulch may also be beneficial for reviving a dying Buxus plant, as it can provide much-needed nutrients and keep water in the soil, minimising the chances that the Buxus will die from the heat.

We would also recommend that you clear the area around the Buxus plant of fallen leaves and other plant debris, as these conditions can promote the growth of fungus and diseases, which are very common in Buxus hedging plants.

Pruning Buxus Plants After Cold Winters

If your Buxus plant turns brown in winter, this is typical of this species. After growing in the summer, their growth rate decreases in the winter months drastically. 

Buxus plants can become damaged over the winter particularly when it freezes, as the plants lose moisture and the new growth achieved that year may die. This may cause extreme cracking of the stems and branches, which can look unpleasant when spring arrives.

Prune these cracked and brown branches ready for fresh, new growth in the spring. Healthy wood and green stems help to revive the Buxus plant, as it isn’t then wasting energy on damaged and dead branches.   

However, there are times when the whole plant may be brown and cracked. In an attempt to revive the Boxwood shrub, you can cut the whole plant back to the stem. Although you will lose height this way, trimming back the dead foliage will help revive the Buxus plant by giving it a fresh start for new growth.

Check the Branches are Aired

Pruning the centre of your Boxwood plant is extremely important. The interior of the plant can become humid when there are too many branches, as it thickens the canopy and traps heat, creating the perfect environment for fungi and disease to take hold. 

Therefore, we’d recommend you trim the interior branches in early spring to ensure a successful year of growth. This lets air reach the interior of the plant and can help revive Buxus plants if they are struggling.

Common Diseases and Pests for Buxus Plants

Diseases are extremely common in Buxus plants. They can make the plant extremely stressed, causing it to lose its colour (fungi such as Volutella, for instance, make the plants’ leaves turn orange and begin to decay) or in worse cases to die. 

Blight is also an extremely common disease that can infect Buxus plants, as well as ox rust, Macrophoma leaf spot and Phytophthora root rot. Pests including Box caterpillars, Box suckers, red spider mites and leaf-mining gall midges all cause stress to Boxwood and can contribute to their decline.

Clean pruning tools and a mild bleach solution will help prevent the spread of disease across your garden. You should also avoid over-watering, as diseases thrive in humid conditions. Ensure you do your research before treatment to avoid damaging surrounding plants or worsening the condition.

You can view our pages on how to deal with Box blight and treatment for Box caterpillars here.

Buxus hedging can be extremely susceptible to disease and pests but also can brown throughout winter and weaken significantly in poor planting conditions. It is important to find the cause of the plant decaying before you start treatment. Once the cause is identified, you can begin strengthening the plant so it can grow successfully in the summer season.

Hopes Grove Nurseries sell Buxus plants hedging from our nursery in Kent, delivering across the UK. If you’re interested in our plants, buy online today or contact us if you have any questions.