Eazy Gardening

Versatile Korean Boxwood: A Low-Maintenance Plant for Indoor and Outdoor Settings

Buxus sinica var. insularis ‘Wintergreen’, also known as Korean boxwood, is a popular ornamental evergreen shrub that deserves a spot in your garden.

This plant is highly valued for its year-round glossy green foliage, compact growth habit, and easy maintenance. In this article, we will take a closer look at Korean boxwood, including its characteristics, cultivation, and care tips.

Overview of the Plant

Common Names:

Korean boxwood, Wintergreen boxwood, Insular boxwood

Vernacular Names:

This plant is commonly known as Noneulnim () in Korean, which translates to “evergreen lady.”

Description of the Plant:

Korean boxwood is a slow-growing, evergreen shrub that belongs to the Buxaceae family. It typically reaches a height of 2-3 feet and a spread of 3-4 feet at maturity.

The plant has a dense, bushy habit with small, oval-shaped leaves that are glossy green all year round. The leaves are arranged opposite on the stem and measure about 1 inch in length.

The plant produces tiny, pale-yellow flowers in spring, but they are not showy. The fruit is a small, inconspicuous capsule that contains numerous seeds.


Korean boxwood’s traits make it a desirable ornamental plant. It features a compact, mounding habit that makes it an excellent choice as a specimen plant, border edging, or container plant.

Its dense evergreen foliage provides year-round color and textural interest in the landscape. Additionally, Korean boxwood’s slow growth rate makes it ideal for low-maintenance gardens.

Cultivation and Care

Preferred Growing Conditions:

Korean boxwood thrives in sunny to partially shaded locations. It prefers moist, well-drained soils, but can tolerate a range of soil types, including clay, loam, and sandy soils.

The plant is hardy in USDA zones 4-9 and can withstand temperatures as low as -20F.

Potential Pest and Disease Issues:

Korean boxwood is relatively resistant to pests and diseases, but it is still susceptible to certain conditions.

Some potential problems to watch out for include:

– Boxwood blight: a fungal disease that causes rapid defoliation and dieback of the plant. Symptoms include blackening of stems and leaves, brown spots, and leaf drop.

– Boxwood leafminer: a pest that causes damage to the leaves, resulting in splotchy, yellowed foliage. – Scale insects: pests that suck the plant’s sap, leading to yellowed, stunted growth.

Planting Tips:

Plant Korean boxwood in spring or fall when temperatures are mild. Choose a location with well-drained soil and partial shade to full sun exposure.

Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball and add compost to the soil to improve drainage and nutrient content. Water the plant deeply after planting and regularly thereafter until it establishes itself.

Maintenance Tips:

Korean boxwood requires minimal maintenance, but a little bit of pruning can keep it looking its best. Prune the plant in late winter or early spring to remove any dead, diseased, or damaged branches.

You can also shape the plant to your desired size and neatness, making sure to cut just above a leaf node to encourage new growth. Additionally, fertilize the plant once a year in early spring with a slow-release fertilizer to encourage healthy growth.


In conclusion, Korean boxwood is an excellent choice for gardeners looking for an attractive, low-maintenance, evergreen shrub. With its striking glossy green foliage and mounding habit, this plant works well as a specimen plant and border edging in the landscape.

By following our tips on cultivation and care, you can enjoy this plant’s beauty for years to come.

3) Plant Propagation Methods

Korean boxwood can be propagated through both sexual and asexual means. Sexual reproduction involves the use of seeds, while asexual propagation involves the use of vegetative parts of the plant to produce new individuals.

Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to choose the one that suits your needs and resources. a) Sexual Reproduction:

Korean boxwood seeds can be collected from mature plants in autumn after they have turned from green to brown.

The seeds should be sown immediately in a sterile potting mix or quality soil in a sunny location with good drainage. The soil should remain moist but not waterlogged.

Germination may take several weeks to several months. Once the seedlings have reached a height of 2-3 inches, they can be transplanted into larger containers or directly into the ground.

One of the advantages of sexual reproduction is the ability to produce a large number of plants at once. However, sexual reproduction can also result in genetic variability, which means that the seedlings may not be identical to the parent plant in terms of traits, such as growth habit, leaf size, and disease resistance.

b) Asexual Reproduction:

Asexual propagation involves the use of vegetative parts of the plant, such as stem cuttings, to produce new individuals. This method ensures that the new plants are identical to the parent plant in terms of traits.

To propagate Korean boxwood using stem cuttings, follow these steps:

– Select a healthy, mature stem from the parent plant and cut a 4-6 inch section. – Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cutting.

– Dip the cut end of the stem into a rooting hormone powder. – Place the cutting into a well-drained rooting medium, such as perlite or vermiculite.

– Water the cutting and place it in a bright, humid location. – Keep the rooting medium moist but not waterlogged.

– After 4-6 weeks, the cutting should have developed roots. You can then transplant it into a container or directly into the ground.

One of the advantages of asexual propagation is that it produces plants with identical traits as the parent plant. Asexual propagation can also be done at any time of the year, unlike sexual reproduction, which is seasonal.

4) Plant Adaptations to Different Environments

Korean boxwood has adapted to different environments in various ways, allowing it to thrive in a range of conditions. Some of these adaptations include:

a) Drought Tolerance:

Korean boxwood has a deep root system that allows it to access water deep in the soil, making it more drought-tolerant than other boxwood cultivars.

In addition, its small, waxy leaves reduce water loss through transpiration. b) Cold Tolerance:

Korean boxwood is hardy in USDA zones 4-9, which means that it can withstand low temperatures and frost.

Its evergreen foliage helps protect the plant’s stem and roots from freezing. c) Salt Tolerance:

Korean boxwood is also tolerant of salt spray, making it suitable for planting near the coast.

Its foliage can withstand salt spray without browning or drying out. d) Pest and Disease Resistance:

Korean boxwood has foliage that is resistant to leaf diseases, such as boxwood blight and boxwood leaf spot.

Additionally, its dense, bushy habit makes it less susceptible to pest attacks. e) Shade Tolerance:

Korean boxwood can grow in partial shade, although it will have fewer blooms and slower growth.

Its small, dense leaves allow it to gather enough sunlight to carry out photosynthesis even in shady conditions.


In conclusion, Korean boxwood is a versatile plant that can adapt to a range of growing conditions. Its adaptations, such as drought tolerance, cold tolerance, salt tolerance, pest and disease resistance, and shade tolerance, make it a valuable addition to any garden.

By understanding the various propagation methods and how the plant adapts to its environment, gardeners can cultivate these attractive plants with ease.

5) Usage of the Plant in Indoor Setting

Korean boxwood can be grown indoors as a houseplant. It is an excellent choice for those who want to enjoy the beauty of this plant all year round, regardless of the weather outside.

When grown indoors, Korean boxwood needs similar care to outdoor plants but with some additional considerations. a) Lighting:

Korean boxwood requires bright, indirect light when grown indoors.

Place the plant near a south-facing window or under artificial light sources, such as fluorescent bulbs or LED grow lights. b) Temperature and Humidity:

Korean boxwood prefers temperatures between 60-75F when grown indoors.

Keep the plant away from any drafts or direct heat sources. In addition, mist the leaves regularly to increase humidity levels around the plant.

c) Watering and Fertilization:

Watering and fertilization needs of Korean boxwood are similar indoors as outdoors. Water the plant when the soil feels dry to the touch, and fertilize it once a year with a slow-release fertilizer.

d) Pests and Diseases:

Korean boxwood can be susceptible to pests and diseases when grown indoors. Common indoor pests include spider mites, scale insects, and mealybugs.

To prevent pest infestations, inspect the plant regularly and isolate any infested plants. Apply insecticidal soap or neem oil to control pests.

Look out for signs of leaf drop or discoloration, which could indicate a disease. Frequently misting the plant can help reduce the risk of fungal disease.

6) Usage of the Plant in Outdoor Setting

Korean boxwood is a commonly used plant in outdoor settings. It’s an excellent choice for hedging, borders, or low-growing hedges in the landscape.

When planted outdoors, Korean boxwood needs to be taken care of according to its placement, soil type, and climate conditions. a) Planting Location and Soil Type:

Plant Korean boxwood in a location that receives bright, indirect light or partial shade outdoors.

The soil should be well-drained and not waterlogged to prevent the plant from getting root rot. Apply a layer of mulch around the plant to help keep the soil moist.

b) Watering and Fertilization:

Water the plant regularly to keep the soil moist during dry periods. Apply a slow-release fertilizer in the early spring to promote healthy growth.

c) Pruning and Trimming:

Korean boxwood requires regular pruning to maintain its shape and size. Prune in late winter or early spring before new growth appears.

Use pruning shears to remove any dead or diseased branches. Cut back branches to maintain the plant’s desired size and shape.

d) Pest and Disease Control:

Korean boxwood is susceptible to pests such as aphids, spider mites, and boxwood leafminer in outdoor settings. In addition, boxwood blight can be a significant problem.

To prevent pest and disease infestations, inspect the plant regularly and isolate any infested plants. Apply insecticide or fungicide as needed.

e) Landscaping Uses:

Korean boxwood is a versatile plant that can be used in various landscaping styles. The plant’s versatile shrub-like habit makes it suitable for use in hedges, low border plants or clusters, and container plants to add texture to patios.

Choosing a location based on the overall look desired can be essential in how to use the plant.


In conclusion, Korean boxwood is an attractive plant that adds year-round greenery to any setting. Growing it indoors requires adequate lighting, temperature, and humidity, while outdoor cultivation requires appropriate soil type, watering, fertilizing, pruning, and pest control methods.

By understanding the necessary care and usage for each setting, gardeners can successfully incorporate Korean boxwood into their landscape design. 7) Toxicity of the Plant to Pets and Horses, Humans

While Korean boxwood is generally not considered toxic, it can cause some harm to certain animals and humans if ingested.

It’s essential to be aware of these potential risks, especially if you have pets or horses that access the area where Korean boxwood is planted. a) Pets:

Korean boxwood contains compounds called alkaloids, which can be harmful to pets such as dogs and cats if ingested.

Symptoms of toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Additionally, the sharp-edged leaves of the plant can sometimes cause injury to the pets.

It’s best to keep pets away from Korean boxwood or monitor them when they are around this plant. b) Horses:

Horses are also susceptible to toxicity from Korean boxwood.

Feeding Korean boxwood to horses can cause colic, diarrhea, depression, and weakness. In severe cases, it can lead to death.

Horse owners should avoid planting Korean boxwood in areas accessible to their animals and remove any fallen leaves or branches that may be in pastures or other areas where horses can graze. c) Humans:

Korean boxwood is not considered harmful to humans if ingested.

However, it’s always best to avoid ingesting the leaves or any part of the plant. If ingested in large amounts, it can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, like other plant materials.


In conclusion, while Korean boxwood is not highly toxic, it is an important consideration that it can be harmful to pets and horses if ingested, so it’s important to be aware of that with the plant. Parents with young children should also monitor their little ones around the plants.

Overall, it is best to be informed of the potential risks and practice caution when planting or handling Korean boxwood in any situation. In conclusion, Korean boxwood is a versatile and low-maintenance plant that has many uses in both indoor and outdoor settings.

Its ability to adapt to various environments and resist pests and diseases make it a valuable addition to any garden. When caring for these plants, it’s important to consider their preferred growing conditions, propagation methods, potential toxicity to certain animals, and pest and disease control methods.

By following these tips and guidelines, gardeners can enjoy the beauty of Korean boxwood in their landscapes.


Q: Is Korean boxwood toxic to humans?

A: While not toxic, it is still best to avoid ingesting any part of the plant and practice caution when handling it. Q: Can Korean boxwood be grown indoors as a houseplant?

A: Yes, Korean boxwood can be grown indoors with proper lighting and care. Q: How often should Korean boxwood be watered?

A: Water Korean boxwood when the soil feels dry to the touch. Q: What are some pest problems that Korean boxwood may encounter?

A: Korean boxwood may be susceptible to pests, such as aphids, spider mites, and boxwood leafminer. Q: How can Korean boxwood be propagated?

A: Korean boxwood can be propagated through both sexual reproduction with seeds and asexual propagation with stem cuttings. Q: What types of environments can Korean boxwood adapt to?

A: Korean boxwood can adapt to a variety of environments, including drought, cold, and salty conditions.

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