Japenese Boxwood (Grace Hendricks Phillips)

(Question)

Hi,
Does anyone know which boxwoods are the smallest in height? I’m looking for something to plant in front of my flowers that act as a border. However, I wanted something that does not grow very tall. Is there a dwarf boxwood shrub? I researched the Japenese Boxwood (Grace Hendricks Phillips) and thought about growing it in my Toronto garden which faces North with a variety of perennials growing behind it. The area gets part sun.
Thanks for your help.

(Answer)

Dear gardener, how exciting to be planning for the Spring!

Boxwoods (Buxus spp.) are wonderful broadleaf evergreens for bordering gardens or simply to have in the garden as specimens. They can be shaped easily and therefore, some are better for hedging and foundation planting while some are naturally round shaped, better for planting amongst other shrubs and perennials. These woody shrubs originate from Japan and were originally introduced in North America in 1860. As non-natives, their hardiness levels vary (Canadian Hardiness Zone 4b-9) and they are vulnerable to extreme heat or cold and salt damage in the winter, thus need some protection.

Given its popularity and its landscape value, many varieties have been produced over the years in order to achieve hardiness and the compactness desired, however, not all species and varieties are suitable for Toronto (zone 6b). Buxus microphylla ‘Grace Hendrick Phillips’ is also known as Japanese Boxwood and is hardy in Europe and USA but not so much in Canada. For a more reliable cultivar, hybrids of   Buxus microphylla var koreana are a bit hardier for Toronto. Examples of these are: ‘Green Gem’, ‘Green Mountain’, ‘Green Mound’ and ‘Green velvet’.

For your particular needs, Buxus ‘Green Mound’ would probably be the most suitable as it is ideal for low hedges.

Hope this information has been helpful and thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.