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Green Velvet Boxwood vs Winter Gem: What Is The Difference?

The flexibility of boxwood and its excellent pruning tolerance allows you to create any garden form from this plant. That is why it is one of the most popular plants among topiaries. Today we will compare two popular boxwood varieties and find out all about them.

The main difference between these plants is that Winter Gem Boxwood is larger than Green Velvet Boxwood. Winter Gem reaches 6 feet in height while Green Velvet grows to 4 feet in height. Also, Green Velvet has slightly pale leaves and Winter Gem has richer green leaves.

In addition, the leaves of Green Velvet Boxwood are slightly narrower than those of Winter Gem Boxwood. The leaf tips of Green Velvet are slightly pointed while Winter Gem has rounded leaf tips.

  Green Velvet Boxwood Winter Gem Boxwood
USDA Hardiness zone 5-9 5-9
Mature height 3-4′ (0.9-1.2m) 4-6′ (1.2-1.8 m)
Mature width 3-4′ (0.9-1.2m) 4′ (1.2 m)
Growth rate slow medium
Light exposure partial shade, full sun partial shade, full sun
Soil moist, drained moist, drained
Soil pH 6.0-7.0 6.0-7.0
Watering 1 time per week in a drought 1 time per week in a drought
Diseases fungus fungus
Pests insects, mites insects, mites
green velvet boxwood vs winter gem

Green Velvet Boxwood and Winter Gem Boxwood

Size and shape

Not only the size but also the shape of these plants is different.

Green Velvet is 3 feet tall at maturity, width equal to height. The structure of the branches is more horizontal. With enough light, water, and fertilizer, the width and height can reach 4 feet.

Winter Gem easily exceeds 4 feet in height and can even reach 6 feet. Width, however, rarely exceeds 4 feet. The branches are more upward growing, but they are not strictly vertical.

As a result, Winter Gem has a slightly elongated or wide-columnar shape. Whereas Green Velvet is more spherical or pyramidal in shape.

The next difference is the growth rate. Winter Gem grows 2 to 3 inches a year, while Green Velvet grows 1 to 2 inches.

The rounded shape and slow growth rate make Green Velvet a better specimen plant or low hedge. Winter Gem, on the other hand, is better suited to a taller hedge because it grows faster and is slightly wider. The wider the plants, the fewer you will need for the hedge.


The first distinguishing feature of the leaves of these plants is the shape. Winter Gem has a leaf approximately half an inch in size. Its shape is rounded, with the width of the leaf almost equal to the length. The tip of the leaf is not sharp and resembles a mouse’s ear.

Green Velvet has more elongated leaves almost an inch long and half an inch wide. This shape makes the leaves look narrower than the competitor. The leaf tip is gently pointed.

Next is the color. Green Velvet has a light green leaf color and it is not very bright but rather slightly pale. Throughout the season the leaves change color. The young leaves are yellowish-green.

At the same time, Winter Gem has a darker color. Its leaves are deep green and have a more pronounced gloss. In addition, Winter Gem does not lose its color in winter whereas most boxwoods turn brownish-green.


The sun requirements of both boxwoods are about the same. Winter Gem, due to its foliage, can tolerate a little more shade, but in any case, it needs at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight per day.

At 5-6 USDA hardiness zones it will be better if boxwood gets not less than 8-10 hours of direct sun. Which means it can be planted in full sun in this climate.

In the south in zone 9, partial shade will be helpful. 12 direct sun in this climate can be too much for boxwood. So plant these plants in partial shade if you live in the southern United States.


Green Velvet Boxwood and Winter Gem Boxwood can tolerate different types of soil. They grow well in both clay and sandy soil. The main thing is to avoid stagnant water near the roots. Otherwise, root rot can occur. If your soil is too wet, drainage must be done before planting.

Also, both varieties tolerate a wide range of soil acidity well. Of course, neutral soil is best. Soil that is too alkaline can lead to chlorosis.

If you decide to plant boxwood in your garden, I recommend giving it the best possible conditions for it to take root. To do this, add a few buckets of good quality compost to the planting hole and mix it with native soil. Planting boxwood in such a mixture you are almost guaranteed to get a good result.


The attitude to water in both varieties is also the same. The first thing you need to remember is that watering is essential for newly planted plants.

In the first and second year after planting, the lack of water can kill the boxwood. During this period, you must watch the plants and the soil around them. If the soil has dried out more than an inch deep then you need to water your boxwood. Give the plants enough water to keep everything around them moist but not boggy.

On average you will need to water once a week during the summer months, or maybe more often if the heat is too intense. In the fall and spring, you need to give the plant less water. In winter and during the rains, you don’t need to water at all.

Once the plants are established (after 1-2 years), you should only water them during extreme heat and drought.


The next thing you need to consider when choosing boxwood is nutrition. In general, neither of the two varieties needs to be fertilized. These plants can grow well even in poor soil.

But if you want to make them grow a bit faster and get the results you want more quickly, then fertilizing them can help. This is especially true for Green Velvet Boxwood, which is a bit slower growing.

Spring is the best time to fertilize. The first thing you should do is mulch the root zone with nutrient compost. The layer of compost should not exceed 1 to 2 inches. This will not only give organic nutrients to the plant but will also prevent the soil from drying out too quickly.

Next, apply a batch of slow-release fertilizer under each bush. You should give as much fertilizer as specified on the label. There are many good fertilizers on the market for this type of plant.

Pests and diseases

In conclusion, I must say that both boxwoods are equally at risk of pest and disease damage.

Diseases manifest themselves as yellowing and falling leaves. Curling of the leaves and spots on the leaves are also possible. If you see something like this you need to spray the boxwood immediately with an aqueous solution of fungicide. After a week or two, repeat the spraying.

Pests usually become visible when they eat the leaves of the boxwood. It is also common to see aphids on these plants. In this case, you need to spray the bush with a solution of horticultural oil, which is usually enough to get rid of most of the insects.