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Plant of the month January 2017

Sarcococca confusa is an evergreen shrub which can be planted in the border or in a container. The common names for this plant are Sweet box and Christmas Box.

Sarcococca confusa (Sweet box)

The genus Sarcococca (Winter box) has sweetly scented pure white flowers. It flowers from December to March despite the inclement winter weather. The leaves are a lustrous dark green. This wonderful winter flowering, dense evergreen shrub is perfect for a shady border or woodland garden.

To fully appreciate, the vanilla like fragrance, plant in moist, well-drained soil close to a doorway or path. Sarcococca is a robust plant and will cope well with dry shade and urban pollution once established. It is slow growing and can give years of interest in the depths of winter. The flowers are followed by spherical black berries which add further interest.

In late winter or early spring lightly trim back or prune back shoots that spoil the plants shape. After pruning apply a generous mulch (5-7cm) of well rotted compost around the base of the plant. A dressing of fertiliser is also beneficial applied in the early spring.

You can cut shoots and bring them inside to add to flower arrangements just at Christmas time. The scent given off by the flowers is superb.