Severe winter kill on boxwoods

(Question)

The boxwoods seem to have been particularly hard hit this winter.  Mine is showing just a little bit of green at the bottom.  What should I do?

 

(Answer)

Boxwoods are really showing the effects of the extra hard winter we have just experienced.

Start by giving your boxwood a good, but gentle, shake to get rid of many of the dead leaves.

Then inspect the branches for any buds.  If there are no buds in sight, scratch the branch with your thumb nail to see if the branch is still alive (green).  Once the branch puts out buds you can prune back to the healthy wood.

You can also check for bark splitting which is characteristic of winter damage in Boxwoods.  You will need to trim back to beyond any bark splitting.

If you are able to save some branches, full recovery will take several years. Add soil and keep them moist during dry spells.

If as you describe, your total plant is damaged, cut back all  branches to form a 12-18 inch mound.  This method doesn’t always work so be prepared to lose your plant.

Also refer to the following post on this topic: www.torontomastergardeners.ca/index.php/askgardener/yellow-boxwoods