Asked on May 08, 2013

What is causing my boxwoods to look like this?

This might be the most ridiculous question ever asked on Hometalk. My formerly black thumb is now more of a yellowish-brown color, meaning that I'm slowly learning about plants and not killing every one I get my hands on. We have a row of 3 boxwoods that were planted about 4 years ago. This spring they've had a ton of new growth but we've gotten tons of rain. Everytime it rains, they look like the pictures below. My question is why?? Do we need to cut them back or is something else going on that we need to be more concerned with? I am worried that their shape will be permanently affected if it hasn't already been. Any help you can provide would be fantastic... thanks!
  13 answers
  • R.V.R. Farris R.V.R. Farris on May 08, 2013
    Looks as though they are top heavy, and need to be pruned. My experience with boxwoods is limited, however, they were easy to shape and always rebounded quickly.
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on May 08, 2013
    Hmmm. The only time I've seen boxwoods look like that is after a heavy snow. They otherwise look healthy. I think you could safely prune them back some so there is less stem weight for the plants to support.
  • Ginger Ginger on May 08, 2013
    My English boxwoods do not do this, but other varieties which grow faster do fall over after heavy rain or snow. I would wait until they have a few days of sun and see if they perk up. If not a little pruning will help them get back into shape.
  • Storywood Designs Storywood Designs on May 08, 2013
    Thank you @R.V.R. Farris , @Douglas Hunt and @Ginger! Is there any risk in pruning them back right now? I have always heard that you were supposed to prune in fall or really early spring...
  • Many people prune their boxwood in late spring, when the threat of frost on the new growth has passed (which would make the tips brown). Be sure to use clean shears and clean up cuttings to help avoid box blight. This would be a great time to do it, since you are in NC. Boxwood do stand up well to pruning, so it is definitely worth a try. If it does not help in the next few years, this cultivar may just be prone to flopping, as Ginger suggested.
  • Nancy Hand Nancy Hand on May 08, 2013
    Cutting them back will help. Wait until all the cold weather is gone! :)
  • Storywood Designs Storywood Designs on May 08, 2013
    Thanks @Julie @ Wife, Mother, Gardener and @Nancy Hand... I will try cutting them back and cross my fingers. The cold weather should have already vacated NC but it doesn't seem to want to leave this year! I am hoping for some sunny and warm days soon to see how they dry out and then I will go from there.
  • Fred Souza Fred Souza on Aug 29, 2013
    I severly pruned back some in the early fall because I had a lot of hardscape work done. It took until June for them to rebound and start producing new growth. Their natural growth cycle is to produce new bloom in late Spring, so a good pruning in late winter will help, BUT, given how top heavy they already are, tie them or something before snow weight makes this worse or breaks them.
  • Stephen Andrew Stephen Andrew on Aug 29, 2013
    I agree with Mr. Hunt. Likely with snowfall there were surface cracks on the skin of the branches...sort of like a slow leak of nutrients.
  • Stephen Andrew Stephen Andrew on Aug 29, 2013
    I would wait until they are dormant and cut back to about 10 inches. Also make sure you prune judiciously in the middle of the plant, that will encourage it to come back in a nice shape. The reason for waiting until they are dormant is because if you were to prune right now there would be tender new growth that would have to make it through the winter.
  • Daryl M Daryl M on Apr 21, 2014
    Box woods like to be cut back . They do no do well if left to grow on their own.
  • Paul North Paul North on May 10, 2021

    @Storywood Designs It's been several years since this thread was active, but wanted to take a chance to re-activate this thread. Did you ever resolve your issue with your boxwoods? We're experiencing the same thing now in 2021, and I'm considering pruning back our boxwoods.

    I know boxwoods like to be cut back, but wondering how much this will help resolve this issue of the plant laying down after the issue is already present. I'm just wondering if it's 'too late' to bring the fullness back once the plant is experiencing this issue.



  • Louise Louise on Apr 18, 2022

    I, too, am interested if pruning worked. It’s now 2022 and our boxwoods doing same thing as pictures above. Anyone have answer?