Northern Charm Boxwood
Buxus x ‘Northern Charm’
Description & Overview
If you’re looking for a boxwood that can handle Wisconsin winters like a champ then look no further than Northern Charm Boxwood. This evergreen shrub has a uniform, compact, and rounded habit with dense emerald green foliage that morphs into a rich green-black as winter approaches. The overall round shape stays true, even without regular pruning.
Boxwood has been traditionally used in formal landscapes where its tolerance for shearing and evergreen leaves provides structure and focuses interest along walkways and in gardens year round. Its ability to handle shade and tolerance of many soil types sets it apart from other evergreen options.
Hedge/Screen/Border: Boxwood’s foliage lends itself well to screening as it is so dense you cannot see through to the other side. For the same reason, it is commonly used as a border plant to frame a yard or a walkway as it limits access by making the area impassable. Northern Charm Boxwood’s four-foot high frame makes it difficult to simply step over and its coverage also extends to the ground, making it difficult to crawl under. Keep those pesky neighborhood kids from cutting corners in your yard. Keep guests on pathways. Frame the front of your house.
It can be challenging to find the right plant to use in your foundation beds (the area right beside the walls of your house). This is especially true if you have low windows, or a patio set a few feet higher than ground level. Northern Charm Boxwood matures to about 3-4 feet tall, making it a perfect choice for this kind of space. As a broadleaf evergreen, it also softens the appearance of a home’s foundation throughout all seasons. Many times, foundation beds are also plagued by shade, another point for good ole’ boxwood!
Boxwood is often used in floral arrangements as the small, oval, green leaves often provide a nice accent among cut flowers.
While smaller in height, Northern Charm Boxwood can be sheared in many ways. This ranges from simple, clean spheres to rather elaborate shapes.
Boxwoods can also be used in container gardening. Keep in mind that you’ll need to water them more often, especially in terracotta pots which dry out much faster. They do very well in cold weather, but in a container with a thin wall, they are a bit more at risk in the winter. Terracotta and concrete pots absorb moisture and in winter, that can cause pots to crack. You can try wrapping the pots in bubble wrap or plastic-lined burlap or select a type of pot that is more durable in winter, such as fiberglass, iron, lead, heavy plastic, or stone. Top-dress your container with a good layer of mulch to help protect the roots. Moving the containers into a more sheltered location out of the wind and intense sun will also help them survive in Wisconsin’s winters.
It must be said that if attracting wildlife is your goal, then Boxwood is not the best choice; however, small birds, like sparrows, finches, towhees, and catbirds will use boxwood hedges as cover from predators.
Northern Charm Boxwood maintains a tidy roundish shape without any shearing. The beauty of Boxwood is that it is very easy to shape if a more formal look is desired. See Hedging + Shearing.
Boxwood does best in moist soil. Supplemental watering during drought would be helpful.
Black Walnut Tolerant: Yes
Deer Resistant: Yes
Rabbit Resistant: Yes
Deer and rabbits tend to avoid boxwood unless there are no other options.
Boxwood can be affected by Boxwood Leafminers, Boxwood Psyllids, and Boxwood Spider Mites, all of which feed on the leaves. Supplying the appropriate amount of water and adding a mulch ring at the time of planting, as well as keeping injury due to transport and planting to a minimum. Stressed shrubs are more likely to fall prey to pests.
Johnson’s Nursery-grown Boxwood are certified as Boxwood Blight Compliant and supplemental inventory is only purchased from other certified nurseries. Boxwood Blight is rare in Wisconsin and has appeared only recently. You can also read more at the Wisconsin Horticulture: Division of Extension article on Boxwood Blight.
The wood of boxwood is hard and good for carving. Whittle away!
Because all parts of boxwoods are toxic, they don’t have much medicinal history; however, boxwoods planted by the door were thought to keep out witches. Witches were known to be habitual counters of leaves on plants. The idea is that – if you plant a boxwood by the door, the witch will be obsessively compelled to count the leaves, but the leaves are so small and close together that the witch would lose her place and have to start over.
The sky is the limit! Ninebark, Hydrangea, Dogwood, Filbert, Common Witchhazel, Weigela, Salvia, Ornamental Onion, Jacob’s Ladder, Asters, Sedums, Grasses of all kind, and so many more work well with Boxwood. Depending on where they are planted – shade or full sun – your choices are only limited by the site conditions companion plants need. Do avoid companion plants that prefer dry soil as Boxwood prefers moist conditions.