P&PDL Picture of the Week for
January 10, 2011

Boxwood winter color

Michael V. Mickelbart, Professor, Department of Horticulture & Landscape Architecture, Purdue University

Boxwoods (Buxus sp.) are often used in the landscape to provide year-round green color. However, some boxwood cultivars keep their green color better than others. When temperatures turn cold in the winter, some boxwood cultivars (such as the ‘Sunnyside’ boxwoods shown in the photo or ‘Green Gem’) will turn brown or orange. Other cultivars, such as ‘Winter Gem’, ‘Green Mountain’, and ‘Green Velvet’ will hold their green color better over the winter months. Plants that are growing in full sun are more susceptible to the cold temperatures than those under building overhangs or trees. Of course, these are just general trends and the microclimate in which a particular plant is grown can have a big effect on its appearance during the winter. Like other broadleaf evergreens that keep their leaves in the winter, boxwoods are prone to drying out in the winter, so make sure they are not water stressed going in to fall. The plants shown here were in very dry conditions prior to the onset of cold temperatures, which may have contributed to the loss of green color.

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Boxwood in landscape

Purdue Plant & Pest Diagnostic Lab Purdue Cooperative Extension Service