Growing Variegated Boxwood: Best Practices for Beautiful Results

Variegated boxwood plants are quickly becoming one of the market’s most popular types of boxwood. They’re beautiful and ornamental, but growing them requires more effort than your average shrub or tree might need.

The variegated boxwood is the best option if you want to add some height to your garden without drawing too much attention away from your other plants and garden decor. These types of boxwoods are not only beautiful, but they’re also effortless to care for, especially when you follow the proper steps.

Let’s go over a few things you need to know about this plant, including how to grow and care for them, shall we?

What is Variegated Boxwood?

Variegated Boxwood Shrub

Variegated boxwood, Buxus sempervirens Aureovariegata’ are cultivated varieties of boxwood with broad, creamy white and yellow stripes on their leaves. This variety of boxwood has all the benefits of traditional boxwoods: their evergreen leaves are fragrant, resistant to pests, and easy to maintain.

With a height and width of approximately 5 feet, variegated boxwood is suitable for both small and large gardens. This unique shrub is resistant to pests and diseases, as well as rabbits and deer. This easy-to-grow boxwood variety will make even the most inexperienced gardener look like an expert.

Variegated boxwoods are less dense than regular plant varieties so you can grow them in pots or on the ground for a more natural look. When growing variegated boxwood, you want to avoid exposing them to full sun as they will burn and turn brown very quickly, and the variegation will get darker when exposed to sunlight for prolonged periods.

Types of Boxwood

There are several boxwood shrub varieties used in gardening and landscaping. There are several varieties of boxwood, but here are a few of the most popular ones:

Korean Boxwood

Korean Boxwood

When it reaches maturity, the Korean boxwood shrub is easily the only variety that can split into branches. These are highly resistant to all seasonal changes and are perfect for planting all year. They can, however, only reach a height of 2 feet. 

American Boxwood

American Boxwood

American boxwoods are quite long and pointed, with a rich green color. A typical American boxwood can reach heights of 10 to 20 feet. Because these shrubs can withstand intense cold, they are generally preferred in colder climates. Aside from cold, they can withstand herbivore attacks and several plant-based diseases.

Japanese Boxwood

Japanese Boxwood

The Japanese boxwood species are smaller and are used to complement larger boxwood species. They are frequently arranged in columns and rows near one another. Their look is similar to standard trees, with the roots visible. Despite their prolonged growth, many prefer these boxwood shrubs to improve the aesthetic of their establishments.

English Boxwood

English Boxwood

English boxwoods are characterized by their rounded form and slanted growth. They are widespread in aristocratic lands and can also be seen in many prominent gardens and landscapes. Although its look differs from American boxwoods, it has one thing in common: it is evergreen and rarely loses color. They possess fresh-looking, bright green foliage that contributes to their attractiveness.

Wintergreen Boxwood

Wintergreen Boxwood

The wintergreen boxwood is the tallest of the Japanese varieties, growing up to 4 feet tall and spreading to a comparable width. As the name implies, its color stays mostly the same throughout the winter. Because of their rapid growth, they are frequently used to fill vacant spaces.

How to Grow Variegated Boxwood

Variegated boxwood plants are quickly becoming one of the market’s most popular types of boxwood. They’re beautiful and ornamental, but growing them requires more effort than your average shrub or tree might need.

Although you grow them from seed, rooting from stem cuttings is the best way to propagate variegated boxwood, especially in midsummer. Here’s how to go about it:

  1. Cut 3 to 4-inch sections of stem tips from new shoots with clean pruning shears. Remove the lowest leaves and scrape the bark from one side of the cutting.
  2. Bury the cuttings’ ends in a vase or pot packed with peat moss, sand, and vermiculite. Insert the pot in a resealable bag, wet the potting mix, and place it in a bright spot.
  3. Check the moisture level regularly and mist it anytime the cutting appears dry. Every few days, tug on the cutting to check for roots.
  4. Remove the pot from the plastic bag once the roots have developed sufficiently and transplant the cutting inside another container filled with a healthy potting mix.
  5. Continue cultivating the plant in a sunny spot until it is ready for outdoor planting the following spring.

Growing variegated boxwood from seed:

  1. Begin with 2-inch pots of organic potting soil. Ensure that the pots have adequate drainage holes.
  2. Wrap the seeds in moist paper towels and store them in the refrigerator for a month. Maintain the dampness of the paper towels.
  3. When the month is over, relocate the seeds and paper towels to a slightly warmer location, preferably somewhere about 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep the paper towels wet; your seeds should germinate in about a month if the paper towels are kept wet.
  4. Once the seeds have sprouted, place one seed in each pot.
  5. Wrap the pot with plastic wrap and set it in a sunny location. Maintain wet soil and remove the plastic cover after a green sprout rises above the dirt.
  6. Keep them inside their pots until they outgrow them, at which time they may be toughened and ready to be transplanted outdoors.

Caring for Variegated Boxwood

Below are ways to care for your variegated boxwood:

Light and soil requirements

Variegated boxwoods grow best in partial shade but can also tolerate full sun. They will grow in many different soil types as long as they are well-drained. Furthermore, they are adaptable to varied soil types as long as there is enough drainage. Hence, mulch with shredded bark keeps moisture and weeds at bay, and the root system cools. Use high-quality garden soil for the pots.

Watering needs

Variegated boxwoods prefer moist soil, so watering is needed during the summer when it gets warmer outside. For best results, the soil should be moist but not wet. Let the top few inches of soil dry out before watering again. In the winter, cut back on watering because they will hold less water in their leaves during this time.


Variegated boxwoods are low-maintenance plants that grow well in various climates. It is important to fertilize them regularly, but it is optional to fertilize them as often as other plants like azaleas or camellias. Fertilizing should be done every 6-8 weeks from when the boxwoods are planted until they become established (2-3 years old). For starters, use a slow-release fertilizer with an NPK rating of 8-4-4.


Variegated boxwoods’ dense growth habit and thin leaves make them ideal for shearing into potted flowers and formal hedges. Trim the plants as needed to shape them and remove any dead, broken, or infected branches. If the outer growth gets too dense, cut some of the older branches deliberately to allow more light and enhance air circulation.

Pests and Diseases

Boxwoods are susceptible to several pests, the most common being aphids and mealybugs. You can control aphids with a strong water spray or by spraying the plant with insecticidal soap. In addition, boxwoods can be susceptible to leaf spots caused by fungi or bacteria. If infected, prune the affected leaves as soon as possible, so they do not spread the disease.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the growth rate of variegated boxwoods?

Variegated boxwoods are slow-growing plants that grow roughly 6 inches each year.

How do you keep variegated boxwoods healthy?

You can keep your plant healthy by planting in the right location, providing adequate drainage, pruning, watering wisely, and fertilizing as needed.

What is the best way to water boxwoods?

It is generally recommended to give a shrub one or two deep waterings per week for its first year of growth, with the number decreasing to one per week during its second year. Watering a boxwood is only necessary during hot, dry periods.

Variegated boxwood plants offer a vibrant mix of green, silver, and cream-colored foliage with unique growth habits. They are perfect for adding color to shady areas or as a border plant in the garden. Variegated boxwoods grow best in moist, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Hence, you can grow them as container plants or use them to fill an area with no lawn.

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