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Extension > Garden > Yard and Garden > Trees and Shrubs > Korean Littleleaf Boxwood

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Korean Littleleaf Boxwood (Buxus microphylla var. koreana)

Kathy Zuzek and Beth Berlin

Plant description

Mature height: 2 to 5'
Mature width: 1 to 5'
Growth rate: Slow
Plant form: Oval, rounded, spreading, upright
Deciduous or evergreen: Evergreen
Native range: Native range is uncertain, introduced from Japan in the 1860's
Native to Minnesota: No
Invasive in Minnesota: No


Light: Full sun to part shade
Soil texture: Loam
Soil pH:
Prefers 6.8 - 7.5, tolerates higher
Soil moisture: Moist; well-drained
Hardiness zone: 4 - 9
Pests and stresses: Prone to winter burn during Minnesota winters. Visit What's wrong with my plant? –Boxwood for a list of the most common boxwood pests in Minnesota.
Other: Japanese beetle and deer resistant

big green bush

Bailey Nurseries

Natural form of 'Wintergreen'

Boxwood in the landscape

Korean littleleaf boxwood (B. microphylla var. koreana) and the hybrid cultivars derived from this variety are one of the few broadleaved wintergreens grown in zone 4 portions of Minnesota. Other cultivars descended from B. microphylla and cultivars of a second species by the name of common boxwood (B. sempervirens) are not hardy in Minnesota and gardeners should be careful to choose cultivars descended from Korean littleleaf boxwood. Boxwood is very tolerant of shearing so it is commonly used as a hedge planting in landscapes. It is also used as an accent, border, foundation, mass, and specimen plant. Winter burn is a common problem so a planting site that shelters boxwood from the effect of desiccating winter winds is important. Planting in moist, loamy soils and applying and maintaining a layer of mulch around boxwoods helps to provide the moist cool growing conditions that their roots require. Boxwoods are drought tolerant and Japanese beetle and deer resistant.

Littleleaf boxwoods are dense much-branched plants that are covered with finely-textured, small, elliptic, evergreen leaves that provide multi-season interest. Foliage often takes on a green-bronze cast in winter. Tiny but fragrant cream-colored flowers are produced in spring in leaf axils. These flowers have no ornamental value but they are visited regularly by bees. The fruit of boxwood is a small, non-ornamental seed capsule.

Some cultivars grown in Minnesota:

Littleleaf boxwood sheared into an informal hedge.

Julie Weisenhorn, UMN Extension

Littleleaf boxwood sheared into an informal hedge

landscaped yard with littleleaf bushes cut into curved, u-shaped form.

Bailey Nurseries

Plant form of Ivory Halo®

small spherical bushes

Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension

'Wintergreen' sheared in a mass planting

close up of small green leaves

K. Rawlins,


greenish brown bushes in the snow

Kathy Zuzek, UMN Extension

Inter foliage color

  Cultivar traits:
Cultivar Plant form
Chicagoland Green® oval
Green Velvet® rounded
Northern Charm™ oval
'Wintergreen' upright, spreading
'Saskatoon' rounded
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