Plants We Love – Sweet Box

Sweet Box, Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis

Sweet Box is a member of the Boxwood family with incredibly fragrant flowers.   A star of the late winter and early spring garden and a wonderful plant to have in the garden.

Fragrant Flowers

It has feathery, small white flowers which open from late winter to early spring.  Their sweet fragrance has a nice way of traveling throughout the garden.  On sunny days, it is often frequented by pollinators feeding on it’s sweet nectar.  The flowering period can last up a month or more.

Sweet Box used in the garden

This plant has beautiful fine textured foliage and has a low, spreading growth habit.  The glossy, dark green leaves complement many other plants.   It looks superb with ferns, sedges and large leaved plants.  Since it is slow to expand it can be used as a single specimen.  When time and budget allow, a ground cover planting is very nice.

Growing this plant is easy, it is very care free.  Deer do not seem to care for it, probably due to it’s boxwood family heritage.  The beautiful foliage is so thick that weeds rarely grow underneath it.

In the winter, this plant offers form and structure to a garden planting.  In the summer, it adds texture and enhances it’s companions.   See below where it is used as a groundcover flowing around Hosta, Switch Grass and Oakleaf Hydrangea.


Sarcoccasweet box in summer landscape detail


Key Features:     Evergreen foliage, highly fragrant flowers in late winter, early spring

Plant Type:          Low shrub

Garden styles:     Woodland, Cottage, Naturalistic

Cold hardiness:   6a to 9b

Exposure:             Partial to full shade

Moisture:              Prefers well drained, moist soil. It will tolerate drier locations once established

Size:                        Twelve to twenty four inches tall with a slow spreading growth habit

Habit:                     Low growing, spreading shrub

Special Features:  Fragrant flowers in late winter, deer resistant foliage

Landscape uses:    Groundcover, accent plant

Flower color:          White

Foliage color:          Dark green