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Scientific: Buxus microphylla japonica
Common: Japanese boxwood
Family: Buxaceae
Origin: China, Japan

Pronounciation: BUX-sus my-cro-FII-la ja-PA-nee-ca

Hardiness zones:
Sunset 8-24
USDA 6 (in protected locations)-11

Landscape Use: Edging, barrier, small-scale formal or informal hedge, entryway, foundation plant, mesic landscape design themes, container plant, bonsai.

Form & Character: Formal, dense canopy, upright....did I say "formal"?

Growth Habit: Evergreen, woody perennial shrub, slow to moderate growth habit eventually reaching to 4- to 6-feet tall with somewhat less spread, can be kept much smaller as a clipped shrub.

Foliage/Texture: Leaves small, greenish to 1-inch long or less, prominent mid-vein, no trichomes on mid-vein like Buxus microphylla koreana, young stems green too, foliage turns a bronze color during winter in colder climates; medium fine texture.

Flowers & Fruits: Inconspicuous greenish flower in axillary meristems during spring; fruits rarely seen in Phoenix.

Seasonal Color: None in Phoenix, though in colder climates the foliage will develop a brown to purple tinge in winter.

Temperature: Hardy to 0oF, but struggles to survive the in the lower desert because of the summer heat.

Light: Partial to full shade is, northern and eastern exposures are required. In Phoenix, avoid full western exposures at all costs!

Soil: Surprisingly tolerant of alkaline soil, though does best in chemically neutral to acidic soil.

Watering: Regular

Pruning: Here it is Phoenix landscape neat freaks!!! FINALLY a shrub that you can shear with wild abandon and not be called a 'horticultural clod' (or 'hort clod' for short) for having done so. This IS your plant! Make sure to bring enough 2-cycle engine gasoline for your gas-powered hedgers.

All jesting aside (not really), this shrub should be regularly sheared for best results. It can be formally clipped into a hedge as low as 2 to 3 feet or trained as a small topiary.

Propagation: Softwood cuttings rooted under mist in late spring and early summer.

Disease and pests: Spider mites during summer months and leaf miners.

Additional comments: This is a plant that is 'out of step' with current regional demands to conserve water resources manisfest by installing landscape gardens with 'desert adapted' or 'native' plants. However, Japanese boxwood is a good western substitute for true English boxwood (Buxus sempervirens) when landscape gardeners desire to create a formal landscape appearance with structural lines derived from the use of relatively diminutive dense shrubs.

There are several superior cultivars of Japanese boxwood including 'Compacta', 'Green Beauty', and 'Winter Gem'. Another closely related subspecies, Buxus microphylla koreana (Korean boxwood), is in my opinion a more elegant and cold tolerant boxwood species for use in the western United States than Japanese boxwood. While Japanese boxwood performs well in Arizona's lower elevation cities, Korean boxwood is best used in the landscapes of Arizona's higher elevation cities such as Flagstaff, Payson, Prescott, Prescott Valley, Sedona, Cottonwood and Show Low/Pinetop.