The Sweet Box

Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna, the Sweet Box, is a winter-flowering shrub from the Buxaceae family, with origins in western China.

It slowly grows to around a metre and a half tall, with a similar spread. It is evergreen with lance-shaped mid-green leaves; the newer shoots tend to have a slight purple tinge to them. Its main feature is the small, delicate and wonderfully sweet-scented flowers which appear around Christmas, often lasting into March. After the flowers come glossy black berries.

This is one of those great shrubs that can thrive on neglect. For best results it prefers a shady spot, with moist but well-drained soil, although it will tolerate a drier position. The plant is hardy but prefers a slightly sheltered location. It is ideal for a mid-border feature shrub, especially near a window or door where you can enjoy the scent.

Propagate with semi-hardwood cuttings in late summer, or by seed outdoors in containers during the spring or autumn. The plant also self-seeds quite well so the seedlings it produces can be transplanted and grown on. You can see it growing at Coxes Corner in the University Parks.

List of site pages