Boxwoods need plenty of water to stay healthy and green. If your boxwood looks wilted or damaged, it could be one of many signs that it’s time to water the plant. Whether you prefer automatic watering globes, sprinklers, or watering cans, it’s important to set a reliable schedule and know the symptoms.
To know if your boxwood needs water, look for moisture around 4 in (10 cm) below the surface. You can also use a digital hydration meter. Water your boxwoods once every five to seven days, and don’t forget to ensure the leaves are flexible, green, and shiny. Test the soil’s nutrient density, too.
Throughout this article, we’ll talk about how you can find out if your boxwood needs more water, a handful of physical symptoms to look out for, and how you can make a perfect watering routine.
1. Manually Test the Soil’s Water Content
The quickest way to know if your boxwood needs to be watered is to check the soil. Once the soil feels too dry, there’s no way your plants can get any moisture. Test the soil between two to four inches (5-10 cm) below the surface to know if there’s water.
Follow these instructions to test the water content manually:
- Use a hand shovel or your finger to dig four inches (10 cm) below the soil. We suggest sticking to the four-inch (10 cm) mark for mature boxwoods because their roots can dig a bit deeper than the aforementioned two-inch (5 cm) mark.
- Look and feel if the soil looks darker, hydrated, or dry. Darker soil typically has more water and nutrients, so it’s a great sign for your boxwood. The soil should also feel wet and slightly crumbly when you squeeze it. If the soil breaks apart into dry chunks, the boxwood needs more water.
- Fill the hole with the soil you removed (or add fresh, nutrient-dense topsoil). Water the boxwood until the soil is dark and hydrated. If it’s compact, you can use a fork for potted plants or an aerator tool for garden plants to add oxygen and drainage to the soil.
2. Use a Hydration Meter
Hydration meters offer a modern way to measure and adjust the soil’s water content.
All you have to do is stick the meter’s metal prongs into the soil to the desired depth (four inches or 10 centimeters for boxwoods) and wait for a few seconds while it tests the hydration levels.
If it’s hydrated, you don’t have to do anything. If there’s not enough water, add a bit until the meter tests positive.
The SONKIR Soil pH Meter (link to Amazon) is an excellent choice for boxwood owners because it checks the sunlight penetration, water content, and pH of the soil (link to Amazon).
The digital meter lists all three stats, letting you know what needs to be adjusted. Boxwoods prefer a pH between 6.5 to 7.5. This meter can greatly improve the soil quality of your plants.
The only downside to hydration meters is that they need to be used in multiple spots around each plant. We suggest keeping the test locations as close to the base of the plant as possible.
It can be misleading if there’s a lot of water a few feet away from the plant, so check the roots for the best results.
3. Set a Boxwood Watering Schedule
Setting a watering routine for all of the plants in your yard makes a big difference. Try to keep all of the plants on the same weekly schedule rather than staggering them.
You’ll save yourself a lot of time and energy, especially if you feel like you’re always adding water to your boxwoods. Most boxwoods need to be watered at least once weekly (source).
Here are a few quick tips for your boxwood watering routine:
- Water your boxwood with a gentle sprinkle weekly, then a deep watering once every other week.
- Warm climates with low humidity require more frequent watering than cold climates with high humidity.
- Test the soil every month to know if you need to adjust your boxwood’s watering schedule.
- Never water your boxwood if the soil feels damp or mushy, regardless of whether or not you watered it this week.
4. Check the Leaves’ Color and Texture
If your boxwoods don’t have enough water, they’ll have dry, flaky, light brown leaves. The leaves might also look a bit yellow if there are not enough minerals or moisture. Boxwoods look wilted and yellow if there’s too much water, though. (See What Are The Signs Of Overwatering Plants?)
It’s also a good idea to feel the stems. If the stems feel hollow or more like branches than stems, they’re likely dehydrated. It’s important to water your boxwood immediately because hollow stems can permanently cut off moisture and nutrients going to the leaves on that section of the plant.
5. Test the Soil Thoroughly
Your boxwood might have enough water in the soil, but the plant won’t absorb any moisture if it has one of the following problems:
- Acidic soil below 6.5 pH can make it very difficult for a boxwood’s roots to absorb enough water. Boxwoods aren’t acid-loving plants, so they need near-neutral soil pH. A low soil pH can sear the roots, preventing them from pulling water and nutrients.
- The soil’s mineral breakdown is crucial for your boxwood’s growth. Some soils can be deceptive because they hold a lot of water for your plant, but a boxwood won’t hold enough moisture if it doesn’t have enough minerals and other essential nutrients.
- Many fungi and bacteria can prevent your boxwood from absorbing water, regardless of how wet the soil feels. It’s important to test and identify these contaminants before adding more water. Overwatering the soil can lead to root rot.
While boxwoods don’t need to be watered daily, failing to water them often enough can ruin the leaves, stems, and roots.
A healthy, hydrated boxwood will look so shiny and green that it almost looks waxy. These vibrant plants look dull when they don’t have enough water.