Boxed in by threats

Hedge favourite Box has a new enemy heading our way.
Hedge favourite Box has a new enemy heading our way.
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Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, there’s yet another threat to the beautiful Box (Buxus) the architectural framework of many a garden.

This firm favourite which can be trimmed and clipped to form a perfect miniature hedge or else trained to all shapes and sizes, is now on the menu of the Box Tree Caterpillar, fast making its way northwards in search of a hearty meal.

Cydalima perspectalis is now No 1 on those pests listed by the RHS, and close behind is yet another nasty with its sight set on Buxus – a blight that goes by the name of Cylindrocladium.

And if that’s not bad enough, another blight (Volutella), is also in the Top 10 and it can defoliate the poor, seemingly-friendless Box.

B sempervirens is the form you’re likely to see outdoors, and it’s also the form you’ll now find brightening up many places indoors, alongside the small-leaved form, B microphylia.

To show them off, give them a plain but elegant pot and let their roots enjoy the sensation of growing in a good compost. Don’t go mad with the watering can and if the air in the room is dry, give the box an occasional treat by misting its leaves.

Box doesn’t like to be too warm, and it definitely prefers cooler conditions in winter. But apart from that, it is relatively easy-going and accommodating.

You can trim it but you don’t have to, although the more architectural the form, the more striking the effect. And, let’s face it, Buxus does look good when it’s trimmed and shaped.

Repot annually, in spring and take stem cuttings in summer if you want to propagate free clones. And enjoy them before the Box Tree Caterpillar discovers their whereabouts.