I have four boxwood bushes that I keep trimmed in the shape of balls; they are many years old and very established. We had an extremely hard winter in Oklahoma. The bushes have all turned yellow on one side: are they half dead or will they come back?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Ronda: From what you have described, it sounds like your boxwoods have some winter damage. Since the yellow foliage only appears to be on one side of each of your shrubs, we can rule out any insect activity. It sounds more like a situation where the plants were subject to winter burn or possibly salt. Are these plantings in a location where the snow was piled up near them? If so, the snow can actually act as insulation and protect one side of the plant while leaving the other exposed to the elements. Salt trucks can also damage plant material. Again, if your evergreens are planted close to the street, this could be a possibility. Typically when evergreens die back they do not put on new growth to replace the lost. However, it all depends on how severe the damage is. At this point I would say it is going to be a waiting game. You will want to remove the damaged foliage, and hopefully as the warmer temperatures arrive the boxwoods will put on some healthy new growth. Boxwoods are tough and it is helpful that these are established and otherwise healthy plants. I would not remove them yet, just wait and see what happens this growing season. A light dose of fertilizer might help, but do not overdo it because too much food can have the reverse effect.