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How and When to Fertilize Boxwoods

Learn how and when to fertilize boxwoods to keep them healthy and thriving. Discover the best practices for timing, choosing the right fertilizer, and application methods.

Boxwoods are valued for their dense, dark green foliage and many landscape applications. For many landscapers, they’re the natural first choice for adding form and interest to the garden. But, like all plants, they need to be properly fertilized to keep them growing and looking their best.

In this post, we will take a look at how to fertilize boxwoods and discuss the when and how of boxwood fertilization.

Why Fertilize Boxwoods?

A picturesque scene of numerous green bushes in a garden

Like all living organisms, boxwoods need the correct nutrients to grow vigorously and maintain good health. Although they are not particularly demanding of any particular nutrient, they require some assistance.

Fertilizing provides them with a supplement of nutrients not available in the soil. The additional nutrition from the fertilizer acts as food to help them grow and become hardy. It also protects them from insects and diseases that may want to attack them.

By furnishing them with periodic meals, you are essentially helping them remain happy and healthy throughout the year.

When to Fertilize Boxwoods

Like all gardening tasks, the timing of the fertilization process is very important. For best results, boxwoods should be fertilized during the active growing season, which usually is in the spring and early fall.

This is when the plants actively absorb nutrients and can effectively use the fertilizers applied to them.

1.  Early Spring

Considered the best time to fertilize boxwoods, this exercise should always be noticed during the early to mid-spring period. This is so because temperatures increase, and the plants awaken from their dormant stage. Fertilization during this time provides them with a much-needed boost of nutrients.

As the days get warmer, the boxwoods respond by producing new growth. Thus, plenty of nutrients available encourage strong and healthy growth.

2. Late Fall

More important than the spring fertilization, boxwoods may also be lightly fertilized during the late fall. Fertilization now gives them some extra strength as they enter winter dormancy. Although growth significantly slows as the temperature falls, boxwoods remain active underneath the soil.

However, you must feed them with fertilizers to ensure the supply of vital nutrients lasts through the winter months. This type of pre-dormancy feeding can go a long way to produce stronger and healthier plants come springtime.

How to Fertilize Boxwoods

A hedge in the foreground of a green lawn Image related to How to Fertilize Boxwoods

With the when taken care of, it’s time to move on to the how. Fortunately, fertilizing boxwoods is a simple process that needs very little effort. Here’s a quick step by step guide.

  1. Choose the Right Fertilizer: A well-balanced, slow release fertilizer designed for shrubs or evergreens is best. Those with a high nitrogen content should be avoided as they encourage excessive leaf growth.
  2. Measure the Fertilizer: The directions on the product will tell you how much your boxwood is required. However, always remember to not over apply. This leads to nutrient burn which can be detrimental to the plants.
  3. Apply Fertilizer: Sprinkle the required amount at the drip line of the boxwood. The drip line is the circumference of the outermost branch extension or the edge of the plant’s foliage. Alternatively, a hand push spreader can be used for this job for better accuracy. 

Be careful not to get the fertilizer to touch the leaves as this may cause burn.

  1. Water Thoroughly: Once the fertilizer is in place, water the surrounding soil thoroughly. This allows it to seep down to the root zone, where it is effectively absorbed by the plants. It also prevents the fertilizers from running off into the surroundings.

How to Choose the Perfect Fertilizer for Boxwoods

With information on when boxwood fertilization is fresh in your mind, here are some things to keep in mind while fertilizing them.

Balanced Formula

A well-balanced fertilizer such as 10-6-4 NPK will provide the plants with the required nutrients in the correct amounts. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are crucial to boxwood health and must be present in significant amounts.

Soil Test

A soil analysis test can reveal pH and nutrient content. Boxwoods thrive in alkaline soil with a pH ranging from 6.5 to 7.5.

Organic Options

Compost, well-rotted manure and cottonseed meal are examples of organic fertilizers. They provide nutrients to the boxwoods in small amounts. These fertilizers allow nutrients to release slowly into the soil, acting as food for the plants and improving soil health.

Gardener using hedge trimmer to trim bushes in garden

Bottom Line

Fertilizing boxwoods is essential for their growth and overall health. Knowing their fertilizer requirements, and applying it appropriately in terms of timing and method will go a long way. It will aid in  keeping your boxwoods in tip-top shape.

Just remember to fertilize in spring and fall, not during the summer and winter, and use a fertilizer with a balanced NPK ratio from Hans Chem. With this in mind, your boxwoods should remain happy and vigorous throughout the year.


1. Are my boxwoods in need of fertilizer?

Poor health, yellow leaves, and slow growth are signs that your plants may not be getting the nutrients they need to thrive. If the foliage of your boxwoods is looking a little drab, it might be time to fertilize.

2. How often should I water my boxwoods after fertilizing?

It’s important to water your plants well after fertilizing to push the nutrients into the soil and through the root zone. Once your soil is moist, stick with your normal watering regimen and maintain a moist, but not saturated, soil level.

3. Do I need to test the soil before applying fertilizers to my boxwoods?

Testing your soil is recommended. This will give you an accurate reading of your soil pH and nutrient levels so you can apply the right type and amount of fertilizer your boxwoods need.

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