Boxwood Basics - Buxus species

Bonsai Clubs International, compiled by Sabrina Caine and Thomas L. Zane

General Information

Boxes are densely branched shrubs native to Europe and Asia. A hedge steeped in history, box sprigs have been found in the tombs of Romans. It is widely used as a hedge plant, and is a common topiary subject. Most varieties of box are marked by a distinctive "foxy" smell, which some find distasteful. The box is an important plant commercially, as it is one of the few woods heavier than water, and is thus used for making woodcuts and precision instruments.

Most boxes are grown as hardy bonsai, but the Harland box has been successfully grown as an indoor plant. Box is very popular for bonsai due to its tiny leaves and flowers and its tolerance for extensive pruning and shaping.

One note of caution: box leaves are poisonous, and eating even a few can kill a small pet.

Species Useful for Bonsai