Choosing Companion Plants for Your Boxwood

A close shot of the leaves of a boxwood shrub.

Nearly all varieties of the boxwood shrub are evergreen and resilient, suited perfectly for household gardens. All boxwoods belong to the Buxus family, and they are grown for the shiny, leathery texture of their leaves and the seasonal clusters of exotic flowers. Therefore, these shrubs are also considered ornamental plants which are often grown in proximity of other plants, which is what makes them "companion plants." The bright-green foliage of the shrub creates a background compatible with most flowering plants. However, the choice of companion plants could become a bit demanding if you want to use boxwoods for creating garden hedges and symmetrical edgings. It is vital that you equip yourself with some fundamental knowledge about choosing companion plants for various plants in this family.

Companion Plants for Common Boxwood

Scientifically called the Buxus Sempervirens or the Buxus Suffruticosa, this is the most commonly grown boxwood shrub. It is typically a dwarfed variety, shorter than the conventional shrub spread. Due to its shorter stance and compact foliage, it is best suited for creating dense-looking garden edges or hedges. It is suggested that you combine the Suffruticosa variety with slow-growing plants like the Aurea Nana (Thuja orientalis). The Aurea plant complements the boxwood’s shrub with its short, pyramidal leaves. Other suggested companion plants include the Rheingold and the Sunkist plants that form an exotic pattern with their golden foliage against the green, velvety background of boxwoods.

Companion Plants for Buxus Microphylla

Commonly called the Littleleaf boxwood, this is a slightly expensive and hard-to-match variety. It has the most compact foliage in the Buxus family, and it is particularly suited for gardens that are exposed to seasonal snowing. Littleleaf shrubs should be combined with plants that are equally weather-resistant and don’t wilt under cold temperatures. Try to use companion plants with distinctive shapes, like conifers, for this type. You can combine it with plants like the Blue Atlas cedar or the Alaskan cedar to create a unique design, or you can use the Golden Hinoki cypress for its stunning golden foliage to create a contrasting effect.

Companion Plants for Buxus "Green Mountain"

This popular boxwood is also called the Green Velvet. It is one of most weather-resistant varieties, but the sheen of its foliage can become a bit dull with changing seasons. Hence, it makes sense to use bright floral, evergreen plants like daylilies and columbines to add more color to the shrub. You can also use plants like the foxglove (Digitalis) or cone flower (Echinacea) for this purpose. Another recommendation is the Blazing Star (Liatris). It creates a distinctive design with its spiky leaves in the backdrop of dense boxwood mounds.

Companion Plant Substitute

If the above-listed choices seem expensive, you can use companion plant alternatives like flowering grasses. Miscanthus and Chasmanthiums are fast-spreading, flowery grasses that are compatible with boxwoods due to their varying textures and variety of seasonal shades.

Companion Plants to Avoid

Many times boxwoods are paired with plants that have similar-looking foliage patterns. Plants like the Waterperry Blue and varieties of myrtle are often grown with these shrubs. However, it should be understood that these plants aren't the recommended choice as companions. Boxwoods need plants that can add to their aesthetic appearance. However, myrtles tend to blend in with the shrub and merely add to the volume of the ground cover. They can be used when you want to increase the ground cover of the shrub.