Full disclosure you guys: growing boxwoods from cuttings took me many tries to get right. And even with the right formula sometimes they won’t root. But when they do, it’s so sweet!
We have a good friend who is a landscaper and avid gardener and he is the one who taught me this method. It works for him with many plants and shrubs, not just boxwoods.
To begin, cut a shoot off an existing boxwood plant. I have some older shrubs in my yard that I used. I also found boxwoods on clearance for under $10 at the end of last summer at The Home Depot.
First, using my cutters, I shaved a bit of the bark off to reveal the green underneath.
I had two cups prepared. One with water and one with the rooting hormone. First, dip the cutting into your water. I let it sit there a minute or so.
Next, coat it well in your rooting hormone powder. I’ve tried several different rooting hormones in the past. The one I used this time that worked was Hormex. But honestly, I think it’s more about the growing conditions when rooting than which hormone you use.
After that, I filled a Ziploc bag with potting soil and added water. My friend said to squeeze out any excess water so that it’s not saturated. The cheaper bags that fold over (without the zipper seals) are actually better for this.
I also read online somewhere to add hormone to the soil and to make a hole in the soil before adding your cutting so that the hormone doesn’t rub off.
I used a cutting that was not dipped to make a hole in the soil, then sprinkled in a little more rooting powder. After that, I placed my dipped cutting into the bag.
I made a bunch of them hoping at least some would take root.
I tied the bags with string, firm but not too tight.
The plan from here is to let them do the work and root. Don’t water them anymore. My friend says you want the cuttings to start to dry out. After many failures, I finally got a couple to root as shown below.
WHY WON’T MY BOXWOODS ROOT
So why do some root and some not? I’ve been experimenting with this for almost a year and I do believe it’s the growing conditions. When I tried this last fall, I kept the cuttings on a sunny windowsill and NONE rooted. I think because the inside temperature wasn’t warm enough and it wasn’t consistently warm.
My friend said his success rate was almost 100% when he left them in the greenhouse. I’m guessing because the greenhouse holds heat and stays consistently warm.
So then I tried this again in the Spring and left them outside. But Sping temperatures vary and those didn’t root either.
Then my friend mentioned you can get a heating mat. I did get one but haven’t used it yet (will try that next). You can also buy them with temperature control which would be ideal. With heating mats, you have to leave them plugged in at a consistent temperature all the time until they root.
What worked for me this time is that I bought a small greenhouse. I left the cuttings in there in my very sunny backyard for the last month. On extremely hot days, I moved them to a partially shady area and opened the cover so they wouldn’t burn.
In the end, my theory is, that if you can keep them in a sunny spot with a consistently warm temperature (approx 70 degrees) you will most likely have some success.
Gardening is always hit or miss. You have to experiment with what works in your location and growing boxwoods from cuttings are just the same. As with gardening, when something does bloom all the efforts are well worth it!