Box Tree/Buxus sempervirens ‘Elegantissima’
For many centuries, Box has been used for topiary or as hedging, the cultivar‘Suffruticosa’ being the ideal plant for mini-hedges (up to 30cm/12in) around herb and knot-gardens. Buxus sempervirens ‘Elegantissima’ is a particularly attractive cultivar that has each little leaf edge marked with a creamy white variegation. The young growth of Box is always a little paler than the older foliage and adds to the plant’s attractive appearance in Spring.
As one of the slower-growing cultivars, B. s. ‘Elegantissima’ makes an ideal plant for growing in a container on the patio, where its evergreen colour can be appreciated all year through. The slow growth rate makes this cultivar an unlikely choice for topiary work, but mature plants take on a compact dome shape. As an added bonus, small honey-scented flowers appear in Spring; for flower arranging, carefully harvest leafy stems of older plants. In the open ground, this cultivar will eventually grow as tall as 1.5m (5ft), but the restrictions placed upon the roots by container culture will keep it in check.
Buxus sempervirens ‘Elegantissima’ is fully frost-hardy. However, although the leathery leaves are reasonably tolerant of cold winds, the foliage will remain most attractive if the plant is given a little protection from the worst of the weather during the Winter months.
This plant will withstand both sun and shade; as a variegated cultivar, B. s. ‘Elegantissima’ will keep its leaf colour best if grown in good, bright, but indirect, light.
Keep the roots of Box free of waterlogging: water thoroughly, then allow the surface of theto dry a little before giving the next thorough watering; as with all container-grown plants, this Box will suffer if the rootball becomes frozen. If Winter temperatures tend to fall below freezing for long periods of time in your region, keep the compost as dry as possible.
As a native plant of Europe, Northern Africa and Western Asia, Box has no need of any additional humidity. The tough leaves can tolerate dry air quite well.
Feed Buxus sempervirens ‘Elegantissima’ every Spring by giving a top-dressing of an appropriate slow-release plant food.
Grow this plant in a free-draining, loam-based compost: Box does not mind lime. Repot the plant every two years in late Spring. Any straggly growth should be trimmed away in Summer: if necessary, old or untidy plants may be reduced to a height of 30cm (12in) in late Spring.
This will stimulate new growth and provide you with an opportunity to reshape the plant.
Misshapen leaves are quite common on this cultivar. Box is attacked by several host-specific diseases and one particular pest, the Box Sucker (Psylla buxi). This causes the outermost leaves to curl into tight clusters, making the plant look unattractive as well as limiting growth. Cut out any affected shoots before the eggs hatch in April, following up with a systemic insecticide a couple of times in the following months.
Rust: The dark brown pustules of Rust (Puccinia buxi) appear in Autumn and can be snipped off and burned.
Leaf spots: Numerous leaf spots can be disfiguring: use a suitable fungicide on badly-affected plants.