University of Maryland Extension

Sweet box

Text and photo by Ellen Nibali

Sarcococca hookerana var. humilis

This groundcover shrub is prized for its impeccable good looks and restraint but it also provides a little surprise. In late winter, its small white blooms open.  Not showy but they pack a potent honeysuckle-like perfume, hence its name. The thick foliage is a glossy dark green and tops out at about a foot tall.  Sweetbox spreads sedately to about 30” wide, making a solid edging or groundcover.  It does require some shade. For quickest spread, plant sweetbox in a light, acidic soil with regular moisture, though it will tolerate some dry conditions in summer once established.  Stolons continue to spread, both manageable and usually warmly welcomed.

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