Sarcococca ruscifolia: How to Grow

Sarcococca ruscifolia is an attractive, thick, bushy, winter-flowering (scented|) shrub with dark-green foliage. It is versatile and hardy…


Foliage: Evergreen. Glossy, long (6cm) dark-green leaves.
Flower: Small, creamy-white flowers in late winter / early spring followed by crimson berries that ripen to a rich dark red.
Scent: Subtle and sweet, reminiscent of vanilla.
Hardiness: Excellent but protect from cold winds. Extremely pest and disease resistant.
Height: 2,0m
Spread: 2.0m
Compactness: Thick and bushy.


Aspect: Any.
Soil Type: Chalk, Clay, Sand or Loam
Soil pH: Acid, Alkaline or Neutral. Moderately fertile, humus-rich soil is preferred.
Moisture: Prefers damp but well-draining soil.
Light: Shade-loving but will tolerate sun, even full sun if its roots are kept moist and well-drained.
Tolerates: Most soils including chalk


Ease of maintenance: Extremely easy.
Specialist care: Mulch in spring – mulching is more important than fertilising.
Pruning: Trim annually in early autumn.
Drought Resistance: Good.
Rate of Growth: Slow to moderate.


A proven specimen and ground cover plant, Sarcococca ruscifolia can be trained against a wall as an espalier without any risk to your brickwork. It also makes an excellent edging plant for pathways – take a winter stroll down the garden and enjoy the fragrance as you go. For flower arrangers, the foliage is a year-round joy and, when In bloom, treat it as a cut flower.
Planting on chalk: “When planting on chalky soils it is important to first establish how deep the topsoil is. Many trees and shrubs that will tolerate alkaline soil conditions may become chlorotic (yellow) on shallow soils over chalks. In some gardens the soil layer may be very thin indeed – only a few inches – before hitting solid chalk. Where this is the case, topsoil will need to be brought in to make planting possible.”