Propagate English box

Every winter we propagate thousands of english box plants. English box makes a fantastic formal hedge.

To produce a nice thick hedge it takes many plants. Usually 1 plant every 30cm (1ft).

Because of this it can be expensive to buy all the plants needed to create your dream hedge.

This guide will help you propagate as many English box plants as you need.

English box is botanically known as buxus sempervirens, some people call it boxwood others just box.

When to take box plant cuttings

We do all our buxus cuttings in winter.

Although English box is an evergreen plant it is dormant over winter.

Throughout the warmer months it puts on soft new growth. We prefer to wait until this fresh growth has finished actively growing.

When the growth is fresh its very soft and light green. As it hardens it becomes a deeper green.

We find that by the time the first frosts start rolling in its time to start doing our cuttings.

What size?

We like smaller cuttings. I like them about 7cm or a little under 3 inches.

Some might think this is a little small. But we’ve been doing this for over 20 years.

We prefer to use the tip of the stem. This is just because its nice and straight.

If you have a shortage of cutting material you can use any part of the stem.

Anything with the thickness of a match stick will be perfect.

Prepare the cutting

To prepare the cutting all we do is remove the lower half of the foliage.

Just run your fingers down the stem in the opposite direction to the leaves this will pop them off.

You’ll be there all day if you pick them off individually.

Rooting the cutting

To develop roots on the cutting we use a mixture of perlite and peat moss.

We mix 90% perlite with 10% peat moss.

Wet the perlite slightly before mixing. It’s very dusty.

There are many benefits to propagating in this mix. Our success rate on English box is 99.9%.

If you want to learn why this is the best propagation mix you can read our article by clicking the link.

Some people will root the cuttings in soil. Which can work ok.

But when we can fit 400 plants into a seedling tray and get a success rate of 99.9%, we aren’t changing our methods.

This means we use less water and less room while we wait for the roots.

While the roots generate the mix needs to be kept moist and the cuttings should be kept in a well lit and sheltered area.

Most importantly at this time of year they need to be protected from wind and frost.

Both will dry the unrooted cuttings out.

How long do English box cuttings take to root?

We leave them in the perlite and peat moss mix for 3 months.

Now when we pot them up at the start of spring they are ready to start actively growing.

They have a good root system to absorb the nutrients and fertiliser in the potting mix.

Try and use a good quality potting mix.

We like to pot them into 70mm (3in) pots. This gives them, a really good root ball.

While the roots fill out the pot we water them once a day. We also give them a control release fertiliser to help speed up the growth.

Once the roots are established in the pot they can be planting into the garden or in our case sold to customers.

Hopefully this helps and you feel confident in propagating your own box plants.

We have plenty of propagation guides available on our propagation page.

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Thanks for reading.

Happy planting 🙂


Hi I'm Kev. I'm mainly focused on propagation, running the nursery day to day, water gardening and staying active.

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