How Fast Do Boxwoods Grow? & How to Increase Growth Rate
Boxwood plants are one of the most popular shrubs in the world. Boxwood gets its popularity from its classic look, low maintenance, and versatility. These plants can be used as ornamental shrubs, border plants, barrier plants, and privacy shrubs. Before planting any type of shrub, most people want to know how fast they grow. Fast-growing shrubs can be a headache in the wrong situations requiring tons of maintenance and frequent trimmings. The last thing anyone wants is to plant a large hedgerow only to discover that they need intensive pruning once a month.
So how fast do boxwoods grow? For people looking for a low-maintenance shrub, you will be happy to learn that boxwoods grow very slowly.
Typical Boxwood Growth Rates
The average growth rates for standard boxwood shrubs fluctuate between three and six inches per year. Final growth rates will be determined by a number of factors, including the species of boxwood, the health of the shrubs, native pests, the amount of sunlight and water they receive, and the amount of pruning they get. Healthy, thriving shrubs will produce near the upper end of growth rates, while struggling boxwoods might grow very little.
|Growth Rate||Inches Per Year|
|Slow||0.5 – 2”|
|Typical||2 – 4”|
|Fast||4 – 6”|
Despite the variations, the average boxwood will usually grow around four inches per year. The vast majority of standard boxwoods will fall into the range of three to six inches per year. Small and dwarf boxwoods will grow slower than average, and large and extra-large boxwoods will grow faster than average.
Are Boxwoods Fast Growers?
Overall, boxwoods are considered to be very slow growers. That is a desirable trait for many people looking to use boxwoods as ornamental shrubs or barrier plants. The less the plant grows, the less maintenance they require. Boxwood’s slow growth rate is one of the traits that make them low-maintenance plants. The higher a shrub’s growth rate, the more pruning, trimming, and attention the plant will need in order to keep it looking nice and growing where you want it to grow.
A boxwood that grows just three inches over the course of a year will grow just 1/4 inch per month. That is negligible, and in most cases, it is barely perceptible. That means you won’t have to trim or prune a boxwood for many months, perhaps even years, depending on your situation.
Growth Rates May Vary by Variety
Like many plants, there are multiple varieties of boxwood shrubs. Each variety will have its own set of traits and quirks that make them unique from one another. Some boxwoods can grow extremely tall, upwards of 20 feet. Large boxwoods typically grow faster than small boxwoods. While the average growth rate for a typical boxwood variety might be just six inches per year, the average growth rate for the largest boxwoods can be closer to twelve inches per year.
In most cases, the growth rate is proportional to the size of the shrub. A 10 feet tall boxwood that grows only six inches per year has the same proportional growth rate as a 20 feet tall boxwood that grows twelve inches per year in relation to its size.
For example, American boxwood is one of the largest varieties, and it has a growth rate of 12 to 18 inches per year. On the other hand, the Morris Dwarf boxwood has a growth rate of just 1/2 to 1 inch per year. That is a large discrepancy that is based primarily on the overall size of the shrub.
If you are curious about the growth rate of individual boxwood varieties, that information is usually available at the time of purchase.
Slowest Growing Boxwood
If you are looking for the slowest growing varieties of boxwoods, that will be the dwarf variety. Dwarf boxwoods are very small, and therefore, they grow extremely slowly. Dwarf boxwoods might only grow an inch per year. Most dwarf varieties of boxwood will only grow to be two or three feet tall. At just an inch or two of growth per year, these shrubs take a long time to reach their full size and require little to no maintenance. The only type of pruning dwarf boxwoods requires are aesthetic trimmings to keep the shrubs the shape you want.
Boxwoods are not fast growers at all. The fastest boxwood shrubs rarely grow more than six inches per year, while the smallest might grow less than an inch per year. In the world of plants, that is a glacial pace. The slow growth means that boxwoods require little pruning or trimming, and that makes them extremely low maintenance, which is appealing to many property owners. If you are concerned about the growth rate of particular cultivars of boxwood, be sure to check on them individually. There is still a lot of variation that can occur between varieties.
Featured Image Credit: larisa Stefanjuk, Shutterstock