Buxus microphylla 'Compacta'
Common Name: boxwood
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Buxaceae
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 0.50 to 1.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: Greenish-white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer


Best grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Prefers sun-dappled part shade and moist, sandy loams with a slightly acidic to slightly alkaline pH. Avoid cultivating around plants because they have shallow roots. Roots generally appreciate a good mulch (1-2”). Thin plants and remove dead/damaged branches annually as needed to improve air circulation. In USDA Zones 5 and 6, this boxwood is best sited in a sheltered location that will protect it in winter from strong winds and full sun. Carefully remove snow accumulations from plants as quickly as practicable to minimize stem/branch damage.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Buxus microphylla, commonly called littleleaf boxwood, is a slow-growing, densely-branched, broadleaf evergreen shrub. Most cultivars sold in commerce today mature over time to 3-4' tall. Tiny, rounded, leathery, elliptic to obovate, medium green leaves (1/3" to 1" long) with blunt tips are evergreen. Leaves may bronze in winter, but good green color usually returns by mid-spring. Axillary petalless fragrant spring flowers are inconspicuous.

'Compacta' is a dense, compact cultivar whose leaves often bronze in St. Louis winters. ‘Compacta’ is an extremely slow-growing cultivar that may reach only 8-10” tall in the first 15 years. Obovate, evergreen, light green leaves (to 1/4” long). Insignificant spring flowers. It is valued as a bonsai plant.


No serious insect or disease problems. Boxwoods can be temperamental plants to grow in the St. Louis area where evergreen foliage tends to bronze (turn unattractive brownish-yellow) in winter, particularly if plants are located in open areas exposed to full sun and winter winds. Otherwise, these plants require no special care. Some susceptibility to blights and leaf spots. Root rot can be a problem in poorly drained soils. The three main insect pests of boxwoods in general are boxwood leaf miner, boxwood mite and psyllids.

Garden Uses

Edging or rock garden plant. Accent for small areas. Bonsai.