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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Saturday - February 19, 2011

From: Round Rock, TX
Region: Select Region
Topic: Non-Natives
Title: Pruning of overgrown non-native boxwood from Round Rock TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

We have several large over-grown Japanese Boxwoods that we'd really like to trim down in height about 10 to 12 inches, however most of the middle and lower sections of the bushes are bare or very sparse with leaves. We are afraid that we will kill them if we trim them this much. They were already planted at the house when we moved in, in 1983. The house was built in 1979. If lowering the height isn't recommended, is there anything we can do to get the bushes to appear full again? How long can Japanese Boxwoods live? I can email a picture if that would help.

ANSWER:

No member of the genus Buxus (boxwood) is native to North America. They are widely planted in the United States in an attempt to emulate the formal English landscape. We are not sure which of the popular species of Buxus was planted by the previous owners of your property. Two articles from University of Connecticut Horticulture discuss Buxus microphylla, which is native to Japan and Buxus sempervirens, which is native to southern Europe, western Asia and northern Africa.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to the United States but to the area in which the plant is being grown. A native plant will have a better chance of surviving and will consume less resources in doing so.

Answers to your questions about boxwood can be found in this Virginia Cooperative Extension article Boxwood in the Landscape.

 

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