Any tips for field growing or for boxwood?

We just moved into a new house this last summer and after working on the interior this summer, we are now tackling the landscaping. Our new plans don’t include these boxwoods the previous owner planted.

The trunks are still pretty juvinile (I guess they’ve only been in the ground for a year or two out of the nursery) and there’s too many to try and start training them all as bonsai, so I figure this is a good opportunity to try my hand at field growing.

I don’t have tiles, but have some old paving stones that I figure will work just as good, so my plan is to move these from their current location to the backyard and plant them over the paving stones. But I’m curious has any experience or recommendations for field growing or boxwoods. My very first bonsai was a mallsai boxwood and I promplty killed it, so I’m looking forward to redeeming myself and with about 20 plants to work with, I figure I should be able to keep at least a few of them alive. :wink:

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The Telperion podcast is good one.

I’ve used wood and tile, tile wins. Use 18" instead of 12". But even tile is a pain. The big growers use root control bags and I’m going to buy a bunch and start using them. Digging up a tree or two is good hard work, but when you’re digging 5-8 per year it’s not fun anymore. Plus my soil has bit of clay in it (even after being amended) so I’m not getting a lot of fine roots which is frustrating.

I would let them grow, but prune to allow light to interior branches so you don’t get die back. If you move them, I wouldn’t do work on them at the same time. Don’t bareroot them. I would fertilize. I wouldn’t dig them up yet if just a couple of years in ground if you can help it, but understand you have plans for that area. If you’re bored, pop one up, check the roots, spread them out and put in root control bag then replant. Maybe around year 3 dig up half, in year 4 dig up the other half. Experiment, some people would put right back in ground after root pruning. Others might put in nursery pot for 1-2 years to develop good roots then put back into ground again. You have several so experiment and have fun with it.

In terms of ground growing my experience has been that 6-8 years is early, 8-12 is moderate, 12+ is ample time. Of course species depending.

There’s a bunch more here: In ground root control bags


Hey Tac, do you know what type of boxwood you have. If you get a chance take a close up picture of a leaf. Boxwoods are pretty easy to transplant. They have shallow wide root system naturally. We move a lot of boxwoods at work. They need a well drained soil even in the ground. Root rot diseases are a death sentence to American and English varieties. They also do not like synthetic fertilizers due to the salts. If possible give them afternoon shade.


Not sure of the species. Here’s a close up of the leaves.

Amazing advice, thank you. We have a lot of clay in our soil here too. I just ordered a dozen root bags and will try that out on half of the boxwoods. Do you have any soil recommendations for what to put in the bag?

From the looks of the leaf pic, I would bet on a variety of Korean boxwood (buxus microphylla). If that is the case it is the easiest of the boxwoods to work with.

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Telperion recommends 40% pumice, 40% pine park soil amendment, 20% compost. I had been doing 40% pine bark, 40% compost 20% original soil but it doesn’t produce the fine roots (perhaps no root bag is factor too). I thought it strange to put pumice in the ground, or in a grow bag, but after digging up several this spring it’s clear the pumice wins and should be included.