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Christmas Box Sarcococca orientalis

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
sar-koh-KOH-kah or-ee-en-TAY-liss
Description

Christmas Box is a small, evergreen shrub with a slow to moderate growth rate, but a long life span, and a preference for shady sites. The plant uses suckers to form colonies and, with a mature height of about 3 feet, makes an excellent ground cover. The plant is drought tolerant and deer resistant. It is a winter blooming plant, producing fragrant white flowers from January to March and shiny green foliage year round. Christmas Box can be planted in groups for a great perfume effect during the coldest days of the year. The genus name comes from the Greek words sarkos meaning flesh and kokkos meaning a berry in reference to the fleshy fruits. The species name reflects the plant's oriental native environment.

Christmas Box does best in part shade in organically rich, acidic, well drained soil. Once established, it required limited watering. It does prefer shade and placement in full sun can lead the leaves to turn yellow. Established plants have some drought tolerance and are cold hardy to about -10 F. You can prune the shrub in spring after flowering to maintain an attractive shape and desired height.

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

No known diseases or insect pests.

VIDEO created by Ryan Contreras for “Landscape Plant Materials I:  Deciduous Hardwoods and Conifers or Landscape Plant Materials II:  Spring Flowering Trees and Shrubs” a plant identification course offered by the Department of Horticulture at Oregon State University

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Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#shrub#shade shrub#deer resistant#low growing plant#attractive leaves#groundcover#black fruits#winter flowers#low hedge
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#fragrant flowers#drought tolerant#shrub#shade shrub#deer resistant#low growing plant#attractive leaves#groundcover#black fruits#winter flowers#low hedge
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Sarcococca
    Species:
    orientalis
    Family:
    Buxaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    ground cover
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern China
    Dimensions:
    Height: 2 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 3 ft. 0 in. - 4 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Ground Cover
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Female flowers give way to globose, shiny black fruits to 1/3 of an inch wide.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Insignificant
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Winter
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Pink-tinged white flowers are inconspicuous but sweetly scented, and blossom along the branches in midwinter, their scent is most noticeable during mild spells.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Cuneate
    Lanceolate
    Ovate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    Lustrous dark green leaves are ovate-lanceolate and cuneate at the base and can reach 3 1/2 inches in length. The leaves are longer than the leaves of the commonly cultivated S.confusa and broader than S. hookeriana.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Slope/Bank
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Hedge
    Mass Planting
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought