Boxwood bonsai trees are created from the large Buxus genus of broadleaf evergreens.
When we hear the words 'evergreen' we often think of conifers such as pines and junipers. Buxus are evergreen shrubs.
(In Europe, this plant is simply referred to as "box.")
The small leaves and hard wood trunks make them especially popular with the beginner. More experienced artists also have great respect this species as bonsai.
Many different Buxus varieties have been used to create bonsai over the years.
The Buxus harlandii is a favorite. It is especially known for the impressive deep crevices in the bark, which add to its appearance of age.
Pavel Slovák posted this photo of his friend Mirek Skrabal's bonsai on the Internet Bonsai Club site. On the site, there are several other photos of this bonsai tree worth seeing. Several show the tree in flower!
Rodney Clemons is known for his "Kingsville." I asked about the name. As with so many plants, the 'box' names can get confusing. Is it a common name? Or is it the scientific name?
"Kingsville is called Buxus microphlla var. "kingsville" However, here's where the trouble begins....a lot of the plantsmen (including Henry Hohman) call It Buxus Microphllia var. compacta. "Henry Hohman's Kingsville Nursey in Maryland introduced "compacta" to the nursery trade in the early 1900's. I would go with "compacta" and let 'Kingsville' be considered part of the common name." - Rodney Clemons
While researching this page, I discovered more about the "Kingsville" boxwood bonsai tree history. (The original article and the black and white photos first appeared in the article “National Bonsai Collection Begins” by Col. John Hinds,
The Bonsai Bulletin Vol. 11, No. 4 Winter (1973).)
Dr. John Creech, then Director of the Arboretum and Yuji Yoshimura (left) are shown here looking at potential boxwoods in the Kingsville Nursery, MD in 1973. On the right is Mr. Yoshimura's first styling.
The story later appeared again in the National Bonsai Collection's first Capital Bonsai Blog in 2011.
"For the inaugural post of the this blog I think it would be fitting to feature the very first bonsai within the National Arboretum’s collection. Most people don’t realize that the Japanese Collection of bonsai were not the first bonsai at the Arboretum. In fact this tree, a boxwood Buxus microphylla ‘compacta,’ didn’t even come from Japan. It came from the Kingsville Nursery, 60 miles Northeast of D.C. ... "
To read the entire article written by Aarin Packard, then Assistant Curator, and see more photos, see the original Wordpress article.
Today, the same tree is displayed in the National Bonsai & Penjing Museum in Washington, D.C.
This species is easy to care for, however the roots tend to be very dense and need frequent watering. Traditional bonsai tree trimming is perfect for boxwood, as they need thinning (even as common hedges.)
John Geanangel has posted an easy to understand
One of John's comments is especially important. When trimming, cut the stems, not the leaves. Even though "hedge pruning" will make your bonsai fuller, doing it correctly will make it a treasure.
Leave this "true" boxwood bonsai page and read about the Carissa boxwood. It is not a "box" at all. However, it's another great bonsai subject.
is my free monthly newsletter. Subscribe to get current tips, ideas and photos that may not appear on this site.
Know the basics? Ready for more? Watch these amazing Colin Lewis bonsai class videos.
Craftsy sent me a copy of this class to review. Very impressed, we became an affiliate and receive a small commission on purchases. (Which helps support this site.)