Boxwood vs Privet

luvsautumn(z4 MN)April 29, 2005

I'd like to surround my new patio with a semi-formal hedge that I could trim to be "box-y", about 2 feet tall, to give the patio an "outside room" look. Does anyone know the advantage and disadvantages of boxwoods versus privets here in Minnesota? Any other suggestions? Thanks for any help.

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meeperx(z4/5 Mpls)


My neighbor in Mpls has his front porch edged in korean boxwood (smaller leaf type). Boxwood is evergreen (not sure about privet) but will get winter burn if planted in full sun (also not sure about privet with regards to this).

From U of MN Extension:


Boxwoods are broadleaf evergreens that are used extensively in the eastern United States for landscape purposes, but unfortunately there is only a single species that has proved hardy in Minnesota. It should be protected from the winter sun. If planted on the north, west, or east side where there is some shade, it does not have to be wrapped to prevent winter sun injury.

Korean Boxwood (Buxus microphylla koreana), 2 ft. with a spread of 3 ft. The winter color is often an olive to purple-green. The selection Wintergreen holds the green color better than the species. It does best planted where it will be in winter shade. It makes a satisfactory specimen plant and a useful plant for a small hedge. Protected sites in zones 3 and 4.


Privets are used extensively in foundation plantings and hedges in areas with milder climates. Even the hardiest privets are subject to winter injury in Minnesota.

Cheyenne Privet (Ligustrum vulgare 'Cheyenne'), 5 ft. This is the hardiest privet, but it will occasionally dieback severely during some winters. It has a dark green, fine foliage. Flowers are small and white. Trial in zone 4.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2005 at 11:52PM
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Thanks for the Extension info. I had always thought privet wasn't hardy but then came across "cheyenne". It is listed on many sites as being winter hardy in zone 4. It can be very confusing. Though it is common as dirt out east, I still miss its fragrance. Karen

    Bookmark   April 30, 2005 at 1:07PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

If you don't mind the thorns, barberry makes an excellent, hardy, no fuss small hedge for sun. Might I suggest the all green form as your best option.

Also the dwarf arborvitae, Hetz Midget will stay in bounds nicely, but it does grow slower. Evergreen and winter hardy too, for sun or part shade.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2005 at 1:30PM
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Privet: This is a foul and monstrous plant not fit for 2 ft hedge. Will easily top 10 ft.

Boxwood: These will not winterburn in sun in the Twin Cities-- not one single bit. Go for the Glencoe which is fabulous and will be only about 2.5 feet high (3 feet wide) with no pruning req. There are many others, could try also green velvet. Korean is OK but bigger plant with smaller leaves than the 2 that I mention. All boxwood evergreen which is a huge plus for a hedge.

Barberry is a garbage collector and very thorny, has nice fall color.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2005 at 10:38PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

So Tom, you've grown boxwood in 4a in full sun? Korean box you could get away with, but the hybrid English/Korean boxes I think would be iffy, although 'Glencoe' is new to me. Can you prove me wrong? Actually, I would be interested to know which cultivars you have in 4b that do well in winter sun as well.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 3:50PM
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I have 4 Glencoe (AKA Chicagoland Green) and there is no winter burning, at least not after a couple years. Planted them in 1999.

I also have a Green Mountain which has the unfortunate habit of putting out September new growth which turns white by spring. It is covered by the new growth in the spring. No winter buring problems, tho.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2005 at 9:28AM
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meeperx(z4/5 Mpls)

Here's another boxwood article that may be helpful

Here is a link that might be useful: Boxwood in the North

    Bookmark   May 6, 2005 at 10:41AM
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luvsautumn(z4 MN)

Thank you to everyone! All of my questions have been answered thanks to this site and your knowledge. (I think I'm going with Green Gem boxwood.)

    Bookmark   May 6, 2005 at 12:07PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

The winter white syndrome is a quandry to me. My Vardar Valley does that too (and the "white" leaves are dead). But I wonder what causes the white as opposed to brown. I've grown another semervirens type that burns only brown and not white, yet it gets winter sun while my Vardar Valley does not. Any thoughts?

Tom, have you tried any boxwood that have not made it?


    Bookmark   May 6, 2005 at 10:35PM
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I would say that they are white because they come so late in the season the leaves don't get a chance to flesh out at all, just a guess.

It is interesting that you are having this white issue with the Varder since that is the true sempervirens. The Green Mountain, the only one of the hybrids that is upright like the typical sempervirens, has the same problem.

Autumn lover: pygmy plants can be painfully slow growers and have itty bitty leaves-- you should check that out in before buying.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2005 at 5:20PM
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sue_minn(4 MN)

Alpine currant makes a great small hedge. I cut mine back hard twice each spring.

My five Green Mountain in west central Minn. develop large amounts of yellow leaves in late winter. I planted them about 3 years ago along the eastern foundation of my house. (Bought from Hortico.) I can't have them looking so badly in the spring so I was going to tear them out this year. Do you recommend I try another boxwood?

I love my foul Cheyenne privet hedge. It can get very big however.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2005 at 8:15PM
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Thanks for heads upon the privet.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2005 at 1:57PM
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sue_minn(4 MN)

If I try Green Velvet boxwood do I need to be careful about the source?

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 6:15PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

As long as it is correctly named to start with, a Green Velvet is a Green Velvet is a Green Velvet, no matter where it comes from or where it has grown. Genetics are always the same on cultivars.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2005 at 6:29PM
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Rick: No, I've not had any boxwood failures, just tried those 3 though. I don't see an advantage of Green Velvet over Glencoe so haven't tried GV.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2005 at 10:35AM
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Does anyone know the cultivars sold at Costco in Northern VA area? They have 2 varieties--one with dark green shiny leaves and another that has bright green delicate leaves. Both in 3.5 gallon containers.


    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 12:54PM
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sue_minn(4 MN)

My five Green Mountain in west central Minnesota have come through the winter with very little browning. They're doing great (NE side of house).

    Bookmark   March 25, 2007 at 9:13PM
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I am looking to put a long line of shrubs (140 feet) to put a divider between my home and our neighbors. I absolutely LOVE boxwood, but don't think I can afford (unless I start a 1 footer and hope to live to 100) the number of boxwoods for the height I would like to start with (at least 4 feet) to give a bit of an instant border. I have considered privet as it looks similar and seems to grow fast, but I understand many of them lose their leaves in the winter and that would defeat the purpose of the shrub. Should I go with the boxwoods and just start small, do they really grow THAT slow? Or should I go with the privet and hope they don't lose ALL their leaves? Is there a type of ilex that I would consider that would be cheaper but give a "boxwood" look? Any help would be appreciated as I am a new home owner and new to gardening. Thank you, Susan

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 10:23PM
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