Boxwood Hard Prune in Summer
This Japanese boxwood was part of a hedge at my parent’s place. They were expanding their carport and asked if I wanted any of the plants for bonsai. I said yes. At the time, in 1994, the boxwood was about 40 years old, making it around 70 now.
Like many broadleaf evergreens, after the first flush of growth hardens off there’s a chance to cut boxwood back. Cutback is best done in summer for them to leaf out before fall. They like the heat. Try to time it a few weeks after hardening off, to give the plant enough time to restock its sugar supplies so it can regrow from cutback.
We did this a bit late for our neck of the woods, here in the Pacific Northwest, USA. If you have a lot of summer left it might still be possible for you. Or, keep in mind for next year.
Be sure your plant is strong, with good extensions. Also, boxwood respond best if fertilized well in the fall, and in the spring, to do as drastic a summer cut back as shown here.
Japanese boxwood in a training pot “spa” to ramp up vigor. The plant hasn’t been touched all year.
Carmen making the cuts…
Cutback finished. Another example of this is our exercise with Satsuki azalea. For this to work well, cut back inside the ideal canopy size, and let the tree grow out to meet it. The look of this one does remind me of ficus and hibiscus defoliation techniques, in preparation for display. Old boxwood don’t have the energy of a ficus, though, and I don’t recommend this as an annual technique.
This was the boxwood 26 years ago, two years after removing it from a hedge. I wrote this article for International Bonsai the year I left for my apprenticeship in Japan.
August 2022 Bulletin Board
- Have September 24-25th free? Join us for the unbearably popular Seasonal-lite series! Our fall program caps the 2022 season, covering conifer and deciduous fall techniques, a deep dive into design (including 4 traps to avoid), fine tuning your foliage pads, winter care, and much more. We’ve had folks from all over the world join us for these sessions—a few brave Australians have obliterated their early morning hours…definitely easier for our European participants… For more info please look here, and to sign up, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org