Boxwoods Bush

Boxwoods are a landscape staple, prized for their versatility and ability to be trimmed into formal shapes and neat containered forms. With their refined green foliage, they offer a classic, crisp look paired well alongside homes, flanking doorways, lining garden paths, and anchoring borders. However, plain green boxwoods alone can feel dull. So, what to plant in front of boxwoods ? Strategically planting perennials, annuals, bulbs, and shrubs in front of boxwood foundation plantings adds an extra layer of curb appeal and visual interest.

The space in front of boxwoods offers prime real estate to add punches of color, textures, sculptural forms, and seasonal display. By thoughtfully selecting plants with multi-season appeal, landscapes can shift from boring to breathtaking with boxwoods as the perfect lush green backdrop. Designing dynamic plant pairings that mingle beautifully with boxwoods is easier when keeping color theory, seasonal interest, and maintenance needs in mind.

Boxwoods Plant

Color Theory for Complementary Plant Pairings

When designing what to plant alongside green boxwood shrubs, leverage color theory for choosing complementary colors for big impact. The color wheel shows families of colors from cool blues to hot reds. Colors directly across from each other have the highest contrast. Purple and yellow offer classic complements to green foliage. Both pop brightly against the neutral boxwood backdrop. Cool silvery blues and grays also make boxwoods shine.

Purple complements:


Russian sage




Yellow complements:

Black-eyed Susans



Bulbs like daffodils and tulips

Leafy plants like spirea Gold Mound

Blue/gray complements:


Sea holly

Ornamental grasses


Bright white blooms also make boxwoods look even greener. Varieties like daisies, achillea, and snowdrops make pure partners. For combinations that calm rather than pop, stick to pastels like soft pink, pale yellow, baby blue, and lilac blooms.

Paperwhite Daffodil Flowers

Textural Contrasts

Pairing fine, glossy boxwood leaves against plants with dramatically different forms and textures creates another form of contrast. Feathery fronds of ferns, spiky blades of ornamental grasses, large dinner plate dahlia blooms, and upright spires of foxglove provide plenty of textural tension. Silvery sea holly leaves, fuzzy lamb’s ear, and bold hosta varieties also juxtapose nicely with neatly pruned boxwood shrubs.

Key Planting Strategies

Space plants properly allowing for mature sizes. Generally, small varieties make the best companions for boxwoods, rather than towering plants that overshadow.

Cluster groupings of plants together in odd-numbered groupings of 3, 5, or 7 rather than a lone plant. Repetition of blocks of the same plant makes the biggest impact.

Create layers with small, low growers in front, medium heights displayed in the middle zone, and taller backdrops anchoring the back row.

Boxwoods Plants

Caring for Boxwood Companion Plantings

Adding more plants in front of boxwoods means maintaining extra plantings. Keep them thriving with good horticulture practices:

  • Mulch beds well each spring to conserve moisture and limit weeds. Leave a buffer space between mulch and plant stems.
  • Many herbaceous plants like lavender, catmint, yarrow, and bee balm need pruning or dividing every few years as clumps outgrow space.
  • Water when drought strikes, taking care not to overwater. Extra water demands may require a timed irrigation system.


By thoughtfully designing stunning displays specifically tailored for the space in front of boxwood shrubs, landscapes can shift from neutral green foundation backdrop into an incredible four-season garden showcase. And what to plant in front of boxwoods can be easily answered. Leverage the boxwoods as perfect punctuation while dynamic plant partners steal the show on cue as seasons change.

By p ly

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