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Help with dying box plants

Hi, we recently moved to a new house and have our first garden. We were so excited that the first week we just started cleaning the front garden. Without knowledge (I know...) we cut the box plants (it was end of September) in a sunny day and the result is that they are probably dying.

I don't know if it is a fungus, cannot see any insect there, or if they are just dry dead. The top is turning yellow and there are no new leaves in the dry holes. I sadly now know that we should have waited until June and watched some video to know where to cut but here we are.

Please help! Is there anything that can save them?

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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Help with dying box plants

I think you maybe just uncovered a problem. I found this:
Excessive shearing can produce growth so dense on the outside of your shrub that it will prevent light from reaching the center of the bush and leave the inner branches bare. ... bushes.htm

So my guess is that had been happening for awhile. By trimming off the outside, you exposed the dead inside. But September was the wrong time to prune them. You want to do that while they are fully dormant in winter or in very early spring.

The question is what to do now. Unlike some evergreens, boxwood will grow back after cutting into dead wood. But your dead areas are so large, I don't know what would be left. Personally I'm not a big lover of trimmed hedges and I would get rid of them. But maybe someone else can come along who can tell you what else you could do.
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Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Help with dying box plants

The hedge is not dying. It is a result of the pruning. If you were to peek inside a thick hedge you will find the center is only filled with branches and the leaves are only on the outside where there is light to reach them. I can recover but it will be unsightly for a long time especially if it is a slow growing species. Hedges should be pruned so that they are in a wedge shape with the bottom being slightly wider than the top. Most people prune the other way with the top wider and end up with bare legs on the bottom of the hedge. If it is an older hedge you cannot drastically reduce it or you get what happened after you pruned your hedge. Once the hedge is shaped, you prune only to maintain that shape and only the outer leaves. ... edges.html

There is a season for pruning hedges and depending on what the hedge is composed of pruning may be necessary anywhere from twice a year to every month. I have a rhapsiolepsis indica (Indian Hawthorne) I usually only prune it twice a year and only to keep it in shape. It has grown about 5 inches from the time I bought the house in 1989. I did have to take out some large branches on one side because it had grown out about a foot and was getting too close to the driveway. When I took it out, I had a gaping hole on the side, pretty much how yours looks. It has taken about 5 years, but it is filling back in again. Indian Hawthorne is a very slow growing plant. Boxwood grows faster so it may not take as long to fill in, but it will look bad for awhile.

You could have a good landscaper come in and trim it down to the base. It is sometimes better to let it start over, but it will take years to fix it. If it is in good condition, with feeding and care it will come back. If it is very old, you might want to start new, but have it properly shaped and maintained.
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