A compact shrub for growing as a hedge, a specimen plant or as a background for low-growing, colorful shrubs and perennials, 'Winter Gem' boxwood (Buxus microphylla var. japonica 'Winter Gem') has dense, rich green foliage that turns golden bronze in winter. Also called Japanese littleleaf boxwood and Japanese boxwood, 'Winter Gem' grows 4 to 6 feet tall and wide when unpruned, and is unattractive to deer. It grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. Sunny or partially shaded spots and evenly moist, freely draining soil provide the best results with this shrub.
The best time to plant bare root 'Winter Gem' box shrubs is spring, before new shoots appear. Plant 'Winter Gem' growing in containers at the same time, or in late summer or early fall when growth has stopped.
Space 'Winter Gem' shrubs based on how you're using them in the yard.
- If you would like to grow a hedge, mark the line of the hedge with sticks and twine, and space the shrubs so the central stem of one plant is 1 to 1 1/2 feet from the central stem of the next.
- Plant a specimen 'Winter Gem' so that its central stem is 4 feet from other shrubs or large perennials.
- A group of 'Winter Gem' shrubs that will be a background to other plants should be spaced so the central stems are 2 to 3 feet apart.
Amend very light, dry soils before planting 'Winter Gem.' Spread a layer of sphagnum peat moss 5 to 6 inches deep over the planting area, and mix it into the soil to a depth of 10 inches with a garden fork or rototiller.
Don't mix soil amendment into a planting hole for 'Winter Gem' in heavy, poorly draining soil. This can result in trapped water and drowned roots.
Dig a hole 1 foot wider and the same depth as the 'Winter Gem' root ball.
Remove the shrub from its container or remove any coverings or ties from the root ball.
If your 'Winter Gem' has bare roots, soak the root ball in a bucket of water for five to 10 minutes before planting.
Place the 'Winter Gem' in the hole.
Hold the shrub upright with one hand, and scoop dug soil into the hole with the other hand to fill in the gaps.
Firm the soil around the 'Winter Gem' with your hands, making sure the stem is straight after you've finished.
Water the 'Winter Gem' to moisten the soil to the depth of the root ball.
Caring for 'Winter Gem'
'Winter Gem' shrubs need water regularly in their first growing season. Water 'Winter Gem' when the soil is dry 1 inch deep, using enough water to moisten the soil to the depth of the root ball. In hot weather, even established 'Winter Gem' shrubs need water at least once per week.