Sarcococca ruscifolia or, to give it its common name, Christmas Box (it is a member of the Box family), is a thick bushy shrub with attractive, glossy, dark-green foliage – the leaves grow to 6cm long. Its pure creamy white flowers appear in winter and have a subtle fragrance you may find reminiscent of vanilla. The highly decorative berries ripen from crimson to a rich dark red.
Need to know how many plants?
Enter the length of your proposed hedge in metres below and the number of plants we recommend will appear.
Christmas Box – more information (Sarcococca Ruscifolia)
Foliage Type: Evergreen Flowers: Small, sweet scented creamy-white flowers in late winter and early spring followed by red berries in summer. Hardiness: ✯✯✯✯✯ Ease of maintenance: ✯✯✯✯✯ Versatility: ✯✯✯✯✯ Drought Resistance: ✯✯✯✯ Soil type: Chalk, Clay, Sand or Loam Wet/Dry: Prefers damp but well-draining soil Preferred situation: Sun or Partial Shade Height: 2.0m Spread: 2.0m Growth Rate: Medium
Soil and Situation: Moderately fertile, humus-rich soil is preferred – mulch is more important . than fertilizer. Although a shade loving plant, keep its roots moist (but well-drained) and it will happily cope with full sun. Plant facing any aspect that offers protection from cold winds.
Maintenance: Trim annually in early autumn and mulch in spring. Once established, Sarcococca ruscifolia is hardy, extremely pest and disease resistant and tolerant of most conditions.
Versatility: A proven specimen and ground cover plant, Sarcococca ruscifolia can be trained against a wall as an espalier without any risk to your masonry. 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, it treat it as a cut flower.
And finally: Sarcococca ruscifolia has had to wait some time to achieve its deserved popularity. First collected during an expedition to Central China in 1887 by Augustine Henry, the Scot physician and amateur botanist, it safely made the journey back but wasn’t introduced to the market. Botanist Ernest H. ‘Chinese’ Wilson collected in again in 1901 but, again, it remained known only to interested specialists. Only in the mid-1990s was it third time lucky when RBS Kew funded further plant-hunting expeditions to China (primarily looking for cold-hardy specimens) and Sarcococca ruscifolia was finally made available to gardeners. .