Friday, January 31, 2014

Today's Favorite Plant - Sarcococca ruscifolia

One plant in the garden that really shines today is Sarcococca ruscifolia aka Fragrant Sweetbox.

It's one of those shrubs you smell before you see. Sarcococca blooms in my garden before the other fragrant spring shrubs.  The nearby Edgewarthia has a few open flowers just starting and the Osmanthus and Daphne are a few weeks out yet.
While I don't consider the white fragrant flowers to be showy, as they are generally hidden underneath the stems, the vaguely vanilla/baby powder/honey fragrance they give off can be intoxicating this time of year, when we are starved for anything blooming or fragrant.

The berries are red which ripen to black. The plants seem to spread themselves around by seed, but the babies are easy to pull and larger ones can be potted up and shared.
The black berries are also hidden.

Babies galore!

It is a dense and low growing shrub that doesn't get too large, typically grows 3-4" tall and as wide. Likes moist but well-drained soil in part to full shade. Mine is growing happily under an English walnut tree.

Seems to have no insect or disease problems. They can get a little stringy and floppy with age, so I prune after flowering to help maintain a nice full shape. 

Zone 7-9.

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