The Right Place
Littleleaf boxwoods are hardier than their relative, English or common boxwood. They grow best throughout the South and along the Eastern Seaboard up to southern New England (zone 5) where it is seldom colder than -10° F to -20° F. Cold is less a problem than un-seasonal temperature fluctuations that may break its winter dormancy and cause it to begin spring growth prematurely.
Planting Nursery Stock
In the northern part of their range, plant boxwoods where there is some protection from winter wind and cold. Those boxwoods grown in the East like full sun, while those in the South and southwest need partial shade. Strong sun tends to dull the luster and colors of varieties of littleleaf boxwood that have variegated foliage. This shrub prefers planting sites exposed to the north, northeast, south or southeast. In its northern range boxwood prefers dappled shade during the winter to avoid sunscald.
Although boxwoods tolerate almost any soil, they'll do best in fertile, well-drained soil that is slightly acid (pH 6.0 to 6.5). Avoid planting them in heavy clay, which drains poorly and encourages root rot.
Plant balled or burlapped shrubs in spring to early summer, container-grown plants in spring through early fall. These should be at least 3 years old. Remove any wrappings from the root ball and gently loosen the massed roots. Dig a hole wide enough to accommodate the spread roots. Set the shrub in the hole at the same soil level that it was previously, so its roots can benefit from the more aerated soil near the surface. Fill the hole with soil and water thoroughly, enough to soak the entire root system. Since the surface roots prefer to be cool, spread chopped leaves or similar organic mulch under the newly planted shrub.
Avoid crowding the shrubs if you are planting them in a row. Space small or dwarf plants (around 2 1/2 feet) at about 3 feet apart. For a low hedge, space small plants 15 to 18 inches apart; for a taller hedge, space them 2 feet apart. Boxwood roots are shallow and invasive. Because they compete vigorously with neighboring plants for the nutrition in the soil, do not plant ground cover plants nearby.
Amendments In Planting or Transplanting
There are a number of products at the garden center that will help your newly planted or transplanted plants deal better with the stress inherent in the planting process. All healthy plants have beneficial fungi, called mycorrhizal fungi, living on their roots. You can buy these valuable additions to your plant’s ecosystem. See the file describing Using Micorrhizae When Planting.
In addition, there are a number of products such as seaweed, compost tea, and beneficial soil microbes that when added to the planting process will help your newly established plants get going faster. See the file New Technology In Plant Growth Activators
For more information see the file on Planting Shrubs. For planting tools see Hand Tools For Digging and Planting in Yardener’s Tool Shed.