Boxwood (Buxus sempivirens) is a widely used evergreen shrub, particularly in formal settings and traditional plantings. Often placed in rows along walkways, foundations or bed edges, non-native boxwood can be shaped into hedges and other shapes as seen below.
In the mid-Atlantic, it is possible to find boxwoods that are more than a century old. Boxwoods also can be more challenging to grow. In 2018, one of the rainiest years on record, a serious blight affected boxwoods in the mid-Atlantic.
A native alternative that thrives without much care is inkberry holly (Ilex glabra) above on the right. This shrub is also evergreen and has slightly larger leaves than the boxwood. Inkberry thrives in sun and will also grow in partial shade. It typically grows to 3′ wide and 5’ tall but in certain conditions will grow to well over 6′ tall. There are also more compact forms such as the more compact plants being readied for planting below.
Inkberry works really well as a foundation plant, as a hedge or in a bed. It also is high in habitat value: birds and honey bees are drawn to inkberry. This is a very versatile native evergreen shrub in the mid-Atlantic so plant that!
For more information:
For names and characteristics of four compact cultivars, look here.