Sarcococca, Sweet Box, is a splendid evergreen with vanilla-scented flowers in early spring or even late winter. The fragrant flowers are remarkably similar among all the species we offer, differing only in technical details. While some tender Sarcococcas can grow into small trees, all the hardy species are much smaller, ranging from groundcovers to small shrubs. Hardiness also seems to increase as size decreases, meaning that you should choose the smaller Sarcococcas if you're gardening at the colder end of its range, Zones 5-6. If you are in Zones 6-7, however, we urge you to try one of the larger Sarcococcas, as they will make a more substantial presence in your garden as well as bring the scented flowers closer to nose level.
Sarcococca confusa - Sweet Box
Quite different from the more familiar Dwarf Sweet Box, this species grows into an evergreen shrub, 3-5 feet high with highly polished, Holly-like leaves. Small flowers appear in late winter and are even more fragrant than those of S. hookeriana var. humilis. Small fruits color bright red before turning black. Highly ornamental and a must-have shade plant for folks gardening in areas with mild winters. One more thing—the mystery surrounding this plant: Although it was introduced from China in the early 20th century, it has never been seen in the wild. Thomas Everett of the New York Botanical Garden speculated that it may be a garden hybrid between Sarcococca hookeriana and S. ruscifolia. Z. 7-8
Just a few very bushy plants on hand.
Sarcococca hookeriana v. digyna 'Purple Stem' - Sweet Box
Basically a somewhat larger-growing Dwarf Sweet Box, this Sarcococca from western China grows 2-3 feet high and wide, with the same sweetly scented flowers in spring as its more demure cousin. Z. 6-9
Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis - Dwarf Sweet Box
A choice woody groundcover easily accommodated in even the smallest gardens, Dwarf Sweet Box bears dainty white flowers whose presence is more likely to be noticed by the nose than by the eye, emitting as they do a sweet fragrance that lingers in the spring air. Always modest and unassuming, Sweet Box remains low growing and spreads gently. The tapered evergreen leaves provide interest when not in bloom. Dwarf Sweet Box prefers a shady spot in well-drained, moist soil and is apparently quite tolerant of air pollution. PHS Gold Medal Plant Award. Z. (5)6-9