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Sweet Box


Sweet box should bloom for winter.

Floral fragrance is likely the primary asset of sweet box, Sarcococca ruscifolia. However, the splendidly glossy and evergreen foliage is as appealing as that of any of the various boxwoods. It is darker and richer green, with orderly arrangement on nimble and arching stems. Individual leaves are small but larger than boxwood leaves, and with pointier tips.

Sweet box blooms during winter, with deliciously fragrant but tiny pale white flowers that are not much to see. They are unlikely to get credit for their impressive fragrance without close investigation for its source. Vigorous plants may produce a few rich maroon berries that contrast delightfully with the rich green foliage. Cut stems work well with cut flowers.

Because it is naturally an understory species, sweet box not only tolerates partial shade, but actually prefers it. Harsh exposure fades its foliage. The dense foliage on wiry stems adapts to low hedging. It is better with alternating cane pruning to remove old stems and promote fresh basal growth. Overgrown specimens respond quite favorably to coppicing. They grow to three feet high.

Posted in PlantsTagged fragrance, fragrant bloom, Plants, shrubbery, winter bloom

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