The Q&A Archives: Orange Tipped Boxwood

Question: Over the years I have planted miniature boxwood in various types of containers outside. They do well for a while and then I notice that some of the leaves start turning orange. I think I water them regularly and feed them Miracle Grow when I notice the orange, but it doesn't seem to make a difference. They don't die, but they look unhealthy. I also have a 6' boxwood hedge planted in the ground that never has orange leaves, and I never water or fertilize it. What is wrong with my miniatures?

Answer: Boxwood leaves tend to turn yellow and then orange as they die and just before they fall off. Usually this happens with older leaves, not leaves on the tips of stems, unless those leaves have been hit by frost. If the new growth on your boxwoods is dying, I'd suspect the plants are stressed by overwatering or underwatering. This is especially possible for plants growing in containers. The soil can dry out very quickly in pots during the hot summer months. On the other hand, if the pots have inadequate drainage, the water may puddle near the roots. Neither situation is very healthy for plants! Check to make sure there are several large drainage holes in the containers in which you plant your boxwoods. Then water thoroughly when the soil dries out, but don't keep in constantly wet. Roots in containers can bake in the sunshine and freeze during the winter so try to shield the containters from direct sun during the hottest summer months, and insulate the pots from freezing weather during the winter. By changing the environmental conditions and watering practices, your boxwoods should thrive in their containers.

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