As Christmas decorating gets underway, thoughts turn to pine boughs and holly wreaths. Or, in some cases, littleleaf boxwood (Buxus microphylla). If you’re searching for a pinch of green to supply big Christmas spirit in a small space, this could be your plant. The ½-inch bright green leaves hold their own in a holiday display—they’re stiff enough to hold some twinkling lights or tinsel—yet are perfectly happy to perch on a table or countertop, leaving the living room to you and your guests. The tiny cultivar ‘Morris Midget’ (Buxus microphylla var. japonica ‘Morris Midget’) is especially appropriate for holiday duty.
Common name: Littleleaf boxwood
Botanical name: Buxus microphylla
Plant type: Broadleaf evergreen
Zones: 6 to 9
Height: 1 to 2 feet
• Sun: Full sun to part shade
• Soil: Well-drained sandy loam
• Moisture: Medium to moist
• Mulch: None needed.
• Pruning: Prune to shape; tolerant of frequent pruning.
• Fertilizer: None needed.
• By seed or cutting.
Pests and diseases
• Possible target for psyllids, scale insects, mites, and leaf miners.
• Susceptible to leaf spot, root rot (if drainage is poor), and blight.
• While your boxwood is indoors for the winter, be sure to keep it moist, either by placing a tray of water nearby or misting it regularly.
• If you live where it’s hardy, plant your littleleaf boxwood outside in the spring. It’s great as a specimen plant in a bed with other small shrubs or perennials. Or use several as a border or low hedge.
• B. microphylla var. japonica ‘Morris Midget’ grows about 1 inch per year.
• B. microphylla ‘Kingsville Dwarf’ grows only ½ inch per year.
All in the family
• There are about 70 species in the Buxus genus; they’re found around the world.
Where to buy
• Avant Gardens, Dartmouth, MA, 508-998-8819, www.avantgardensne.com
• Forestfarm, Williams, OR, 541-846-7269, www.forestfarm.com
• Lazy S’s Farm and Nursery, Barboursville, VA, www.lazyssfarm.com
(Photo of Buxus microphylla var. japonica ‘Morris Midget’ courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden’s Kemper Center for Home Gardening)