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Box Ball Pruning Tips from Mike the Gardener

Harry, Kate and Lucy

How to Prune your Box Plant.

Box is a useful plant as it can be trained into hedges, topiary commonly balls, columns or pyramids.

Box can be pruned or clipped anytime from May to September.
It's always best to use very sharp hand shears or secateurs to ensure a clean cut of the leaves. Mechanical hedge trimmers can be used although the blades will tend to chew and shred the leaves spoiling the appearance. They are also more difficult to use on more intricate shapes. Damaged leaves won't heal and will remain on the bush until the eventually fall off the following year.
Starting from the top of the ball turn your garden shears round the wrong way. By using the weight of the shears is usually enough to take the new growth off. The useful thing about box is it's easy to see the new growth as this will be a lighter green than the older growth. You can cut a groove at twelve, three, six and nine O' clock and use them as guidelines as you trim each section. Cut off the new growth only to the point where the foliage can be seen as a darker colour unless you need to drastically cut into the previous growth.
Periodically run your hand over the bush to brush away all cuttings from the bush as you go so you can see where to cut. This will also show up any long shoots growing that you may not necessarily see.
The blades of your shears will quickly become sticky as the green sap builds up, so you will regularly need to clean them with some WD40 and fine sandpaper.
With box balls the last thing to do is to ensure the base of the sphere is clipped in tightly, to keep the ball looking spherical, otherwise, the ball will eventually end up looking like a squashed doughnut!
It's also worth feeding your box ball after clipping with tomato or seaweed feed to keep the plant strong and healthy. This helps reduce the risk of infection from box blight and regularly feed during the growing season. During periods of drought or hot weather, you will also need to water your box bushes as they will quickly die if allowed to dry out.

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