Evergreen fine-textured shrub or tree with small green leaves and inconspicuous greenish cream flowers. Glossy green, simple, ovate to oblong leaves, 1.5-2.5 cm long, arranged in opposite pairs along the stems. Foliage emits a distinctive scent that is not to everyone's liking. Fresh green spring leaves, turning mid to dark green later in the year. Clusters of tiny flowers without petals during late spring. Usually grown and maintained as a shrub, but can eventually reach tree-like proportions up to about 9 m tall.
Grows in a wide range of conditions, except waterlogged soil. Once established, Buxus sempervirens tolerates drought. In suitable growing conditions, a growth rate of 10-15 cm can be expected. In deep shade, very exposed situations, or very poor soils, growth is much slower. Most cultivars have a slower growth rate than the species. Responds well to trimming, and can be maintained to a height of 50 cm or less for many years. Trimming during late summer gives the plant a chance to produce sufficient new growth from early spring, and prevents sunburn of young leaves formed after the trim. After a number of years cut out some of the mature stems below the pruning height for the rest of the plant to improve ventilation through the foliage and avoid overcrowding at the top.
Widely used as a formal hedging plant with about 4 to 6 plants per meter for low hedges. Suitable for topiary projects. Since it can be trimmed to any shape, Buxus sempervirens is a very useful shrub to add a structural element to garden beds. Can also be grown in containers.