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Sarcococca ruscifolia

Phonetic Spelling
sar-koh-KOH-kah rus-kih-FOH-lee-uh
Description

Fragrant Sweet Box is a broadleaf evergreen, low growing, dense shrub with a mature height of 4 feet and an equal width. It produces fragrant white flowers in late winter and retains attractive green foliage year round.  The plant is drought tolerant with a slow to moderate growth rate and will spread from suckers. While it is not as cold hardy as some sarcococca species, it does do well grown outside in USDA zones 7 through 9. It will make an excellent low hedge or groundcover in the landscape and is particularly resistant to damage by deer. Consider locating this shrub in areas where the fragrant flowers can be appreciated (for example, near doors, sidewalks or foundations). 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 means having leaves like the genus Ruscus (butcher's broom).

Fragrant Sweet Box grows best in acidic, organically rich, moderately fertile, moist but well-drained soils in part shade to full shade. The leaves tend to lose luster and may burn in full sun. Consistent moisture and a good mulch will help the plant succeed. Prune in spring after flowering to maintain attractive shape and desired height.

Diseases, Insect Pests, and Other Plant Problems:

No known diseases or insect pests. Scale may be an issue.

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#drought tolerant#broadleaf evergreen#deer resistant#groundcover#low hedge#suckering shrub
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#evergreen#drought tolerant#broadleaf evergreen#deer resistant#groundcover#low hedge#suckering shrub
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Sarcococca
    Species:
    ruscifolia
    Family:
    Buxaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Groundcover
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Division
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Western China and Tibet
    Dimensions:
    Height: 3 ft. 0 in. - 4 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
    Irregular
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    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
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Round red fruit, persists into winter, globular berries (to 1/4 inch across) ripen to black.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Winter
    Flower Shape:
    Tubular
    Flower Description:
    Fragrant milky white flowers blossom in late winter through early spring. Unisexual, apetalous (without petals) flowers in tassel-like axillary racemes (females with 3 stigmas located below males with 4-6 stamens).
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Lustrous dark green leaves ovate, sharp-pointed, somewhat leathery, evergreen to 2 1/2 inches long.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Shade Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Barrier
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Attracts:
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Heavy Shade