Does Japanese Box Have Invasive Roots?

The Japanese Box, also known as Buxus microphylla var. japonica, is popular for gardeners due to its dense foliage, attractive appearance, and ease of care.

These evergreen shrubs are known for their thickness and density, making them an attractive addition to any landscape.

up close photo of a Japanese box plant

But, as with any plant, it's crucial to understand its root system before planting it in your garden.

In this article, we'll explore whether Japanese Box has invasive roots or not.

We'll also provide tips on caring for this plant and preventing any potential issues with its roots. Let's start!

Is Japanese Box An Invasive Plant?

Japanese Box is not considered an invasive plant.

Unlike the notorious Japanese Knotweed, which has a reputation for its invasive qualities, the Japanese Box actually has a relatively shallow and non-invasive root system.

As they grow, the roots of these shrubs continue to move outward rather than becoming more aggressive and invasive.

In fact, the roots of Japanese Box are thin, long, and brittle, making them susceptible to damage by other invasive plants that may be present in the vicinity.

Given its shallow root system and non-aggressive growth pattern, this plant is an ideal choice for use as a low hedge or edging plant in your landscape.

Explore similar shrubs and their growth rates in our article Japanese Holly Vs Boxwood: Growth Rates & Differences – Which To Choose?

How Deep Do Japanese Box Roots Grow?

The Japanese Box possesses a relatively shallow root system, with the roots extending to a depth of about 12 inches into the soil​​.

However, these roots spread laterally to a few times the width of the plant's stem, aiding in the plant's stability and access to nutrients and water​.

The lateral spread is also reflected in the plant's above-ground dimensions, as it's known to spread between 5-6 feet.

What Type Of Root System Does A Japanese Box Have?

Characterized by a fibrous root system, the Japanese Box showcases a network of fine roots that sprawl horizontally in the soil rather than delving deep vertically.

Its fibrous nature aids in securely anchoring the plant in the soil and efficiently accessing surface nutrients and moisture.

When planting, it's imperative to position the root ball slightly above the ground to avert waterlogging and to ensure ample space for root expansion.

Does Japanese Box Spread Or Multiply?

As mentioned, the Japanese Box has a relatively non-aggressive root system, which means you don't have to worry about it spreading uncontrollably.

In fact, it's primarily known for its compact growth and is often used to create hedges or for shaping in gardens.

As mentioned, it can reach about 5 to 6 feet wide at maturity​, with an upright spreading growth habit.

Where Is The Best Spot To Plant Japanese Box?

Japanese Box can tolerate various lighting conditions, ranging from full sun to full shade. However, in shady areas, its growth may be slowed down significantly.

For optimal growth, it's ideal to plant your Japanese Box in a sunny spot where it can receive ample sunlight throughout the day.

Additionally, Japanese Box prefers well-draining loamy soil.

The shrub's roots can be shallow, so it's crucial to keep the soil protected from heat stress by maintaining a layer of organic mulch about three inches thick around each plant.

Can You Plant A Japanese Box Close To A House?

As they are slow-growing and compact, you don't have to worry about their roots spreading aggressively and causing problems to your property.

When planting a Japanese box close to your house, always give it enough space to grow properly.

Spacing is crucial when you want to create a hedge or a border with these shrubs. It's recommended to plant them 3 feet apart in a row for a healthy and attractive hedge design.

Is It Safe To Plant Japanese Box Next To Other Plants?

When it comes to planting the Japanese Box next to other plants, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.

First, the Japanese Box can tolerate a wide range of light conditions, from full sun to full shade. However, they will grow better and faster in sunny spots.

So, if you have plants that require a lot of sunlight, make sure to position your Japanese Box in a way that it doesn't block the sunlight for those plants.

It's also important to know that it prefers acidic soil, with a pH level of between 6.5 and 7.5.

If the plants you want to place next to the Japanese Box also enjoy acidic conditions, they will most likely thrive together.

On the other hand, if your neighboring plants require a different soil pH, they may struggle.

How To Care For A Japanese Box and Keep It From Spreading?

To keep your Japanese box plants healthy and keep them from spreading, follow these few simple tips.

Select The Right Planting Site

Choose a location with well-drained soil and ample space to accommodate the Japanese Box's mature size.

Improve Soil Structure

If soil is heavy or clay-like, add gypsum and mix well to improve drainage and prevent unwanted spread​​.

Consider using Espoma GG6 Garden Gypsum Fertilizer for this step. It's a reliable choice for soil conditioning.

See this product on Amazon.

Regular Pruning

Trim the Japanese Box regularly to maintain its shape and size, and to control its spread.

Proper Spacing

When planting multiple Japanese Box plants, ensure proper spacing between them to prevent overcrowding and uncontrolled spread.

Plant them 10 cm apart for a low hedge or 3 feet apart for a spacious arrangement to ensure adequate room for growth and air circulation.

🪴 Interested in finding more options on maintaining privacy in your yard? Check out 17 Best Privacy Bushes And Shrubs.

How Can You Get Rid Of Japanese Box?

Though the Japanese Box's roots are not considered invasive, you might still want to remove it from your garden for various reasons.

Here's a step-by-step guide to help you get rid of Japanese Box.

Step 1: Pruning Preparation

Use a pair of sharp pruning shears to cut the Japanese Box back to the main stems. This will make it easier for you to dig around the base of the plant later.

It's a good idea to wear gloves and protective clothing while doing this, as the plant can be quite dense and prickly.

Step 2: Dig A Trench

Next, use a shovel to dig a trench around the perimeter of the Japanese Box plant. Be sure to dig the trench deep enough to reach beneath the plant's root system.

Doing so will enable you to effectively loosen the soil around the roots so that they can be removed with ease.

Step 3: Loosen Soil And Remove Roots

Once the soil is loosened, use the shovel to gently lift the roots out of the ground.

Be patient and try not to damage the roots while doing this, as broken roots can potentially sprout new plants.

If you come across any stubborn roots, use the pruning shears to cut them so that the plant can be removed with minimal effort.

Step 4: Check For Remaining Roots

After the Japanese Box has been removed, inspect the area for any remaining roots. If you find any, use a trowel to dig them out individually.

It's important to remove as many roots as possible, as even a small piece can grow into a new plant.

Step 5: Fill And Restore

Finally, fill the hole left by the Japanese Box plant with fresh soil and compost. This will help to restore the garden's natural balance and deter any new Boxwood growth.

Final Thoughts

We've explored the Japanese Box's growth, root system, and how to manage its spread. This plant is easy to care for, making it a great choice for gardens.

With regular pruning and the right planting spot, you can enjoy its beauty without worry.

Whether planting it near your house or with other plants, the Japanese Box is a friendly neighbor in your garden.

Would you plant a Japanese Box in your garden, or do you have experiences with this shrub you'd like to share?

We're eager to hear your thoughts and insights. Your experiences enrich our gardening community, helping others make informed decisions.

Feel free to share in the comments below!

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