Evergreen Shrubes

SweetboxBest Winter Blooming, Fragrant  Shrub

Sarcococca confusa (also called sweet box and Christmas box) is one of the best shade tolerant, winter blooming shrubs; it is deal for planting under trees, along the north side of your house, etc. This is a slow-growing plant that spreads by suckering shoots gradually forming low-growing mounds of evergreen foliage. The dark green leaves are slightly rippled and the small insignificant flowers produce a rich scent that will fill large spaces. Sarcococca will grow well in shade but will also grow in full sun if the roots are kept consistently moist. Introduced to cultivation in 1916, it is believed the species comes from China where seed was collected in 1908.

Fertilizing: Established Plants

A soil test can determine existing nutrient levels in the soil.  If one or more nutrients are low, a nutrient specific fertilizer instead of an all-purpose fertilizer may be required. Fertilizers high in nitrogen, will promote green leafy growth. Excess nitrogen in the soil can cause excessive vegetative growth on plants at the expense of flower bud development. It is best to avoid fertilizing late in the growing season. Applications made at that time can force lush, vegetative growth that will not have a chance to harden off before the onset of cold weather.

SweetboxLight: Full to Partial Shade

Full shade means there is little or no light in the growing zone. Shade can be the result of a mature stand of trees or shadows cast by a house or building.

Partial shade means that an area receives filtered light, often through tall branches of an open growing tree. Root competition is usually less. Partial shade can also be achieved by locating a plant beneath an arbor or lathe-like structure. Shadier sides of a building are normally the northern or northeastern sides.

Watering: Moist and Well Drained

Soil should be moist without being soggy.  The texture of the soil should allow excess moisture to drain away. Most plants like about 1 inch of water per week. Amending your soil with compost will help improve texture and water holding or draining capacity. A 3 inch layer of mulch will help to maintain soil moisture.

Pruning: Flowering Shrubs

Prune to remove old, damaged, or dead wood.  Also prune to increase air flow.  Pruning also rejuvenates new growth which increases flower production. 

Pest : Spider Mites

Spider mites are small, 8 legged, spider-like creatures which thrive in hot, dry conditions.  Keep weeds down and remove infested plants. Make sure plants are regularly watered.

Pest : Aphids

Aphids are small, soft-bodied, slow-moving insects that suck fluids from plants. Aphids come in many colors, ranging from green to brown to black, and they may have wings. They attack a wide range of plant species causing stunting, deformed leaves and buds. They can transmit harmful plant viruses with their piercing/sucking mouthparts. Aphids, generally, are merely a nuisance, since it takes many of them to cause serious plant damage. However aphids do produce a sweet substance called honeydew (coveted by ants) which can lead to an unattractive black surface growth called sooty mold.

Keep weeds to an absolute minimum, especially around desirable plants. Lady bugs and lacewings will feed on aphids in the garden.

Hardiness Zones
USDA zones 7-9

Mature Size
Height 3-5 feet.
Width 3 feet

Flowering Period

January-March, sometimes as early as December

Flowering Attributes
Clusters of five, small, white, very fragrant flowers, followed by black berries

Leaf Attributes
Alternate, elliptic, surface undulating, glossy, green, evergreen leaves

Growth Habit

Deep or partial shade

Humus rich, fertile, moist, well-drained soil

Side dress with compost or manure, fertilize in spring with organic fertilizer

Propagation Methods
Cuttings in summer

One Comment

  1. HI Charlie, thanks for dropping by my site. I am enjoying yours today. Although my Key Lime Pie is not superfood, it does address the occasional sublime treat everyone needs ONCE in a while. Look forward to meeting you in Charlottesville sometime later this year! Diane
    Diane recently posted..when pie sales reached 2000 …My Profile

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