Many winter flowering plants are blessed with an intoxicating heavy scent. Commonly known as the Christmas Box or Sweet Box – there is nothing at all common about Sarcococca at all. This close relative of Buxus is tough, gorgeous and does not suffer from any Box related pests and diseases.
The name Sarcococca is derived from the Greek words sarkos meaning flesh, and kokkos meaning a berry both references to the fleshy fruits of the plant.
Sarcococca are exceedingly popular plants and with attractive dense evergreen glossy foliage, clusters of white – cream flowers and a knock out scent who would argue with their appeal?
Coming from the same family as Buxus and useful in all aspects of garden design Sarcococca can be used in large groups, as a hedging option or as shrubs in mixed borders – wherever you decide to use them plant them near the house or a path where the scent will be enjoyed in the winter months. Sarcococca can be safely used as an alternative to Buxus where Buxus blight or Buxus caterpillars are an issue.
Many Sarcococca have a slightly suckering habit and as such are reasonably fast to fill a space once happily settled in. They can take some time to grow as they are not the fastest growing of plants
The scent, like most winter flowering shrubs tends to be strong and slightly sweet emerging from cream – white flowers held on upright glossy stems. Black or red berries tend to follow the flowers and are held on the plant for quite some time.
Sarcococca are tolerant of most soils with some tolerating drier soils than others.
Some popular varieties are highlighted below:
- confusa– very fragrant cream coloured flowers followed by black shiny fruits
- hookeriana digyna – white flowers from December to March. Height 75cm
- hookeriana digyna ‘Purple Stem’ – pink tinged flowers. Dark purple- pink young shoots. Height 1.5m
- hookeriana humilis – white flowers followed by red berries. Height 60cm.
- ruscifolia – creamy white flowers. Height 1m
- ruscifolia ‘Dragon Gate’ - relatively new form which is first to flower in mid-December. First discovered by Roy Lancaster – fact for the plant buffs amongst us!
Purple Stem Sarcococca confusa Dragon Gate