Sarcococca confusa

Winter box, sweet box


A plant of understated beauty and usefulness, Sarcococca confusa is a hardy, spreading evergreen shrub.

The glossy leaves and tiny, heavenly scented winter flowers bring joy to even the shadiest spot, followed by small glossy black berries by summer. 


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Origin: China
Genus: Sarcococca
Species / Cultivar: confusa
Common Name: Winter box, sweet box

Plant Biography

This plant is probably native to Western China but grows wild across regions of East and South East Asia, including the Himalayas. Its dark summer berries are eaten by birds, who facilitate seed dispersal. The winter flowers are a rare source of sustenance for any occasional airborne insect braving a mild winter day.


The genus was named Sarcococca by western botanists for the Greek sarx (‘flesh’) and kokkos (‘berry’), and the species name comes from the latin for ‘indistinct.’ The tiny winter flowers are tucked closely to the base of the leaves along the stems. On a still winter’s day the sweet scent will pervade the atmosphere, giving rise to the common name of ‘Sweet Box’ after its vague similarity to Buxus hedging.

Sarcococca confusa
Soil: Moist but Well Drained
Soil that allows water to drain at a moderate rate, without the water pooling.
Growth Rate: Medium
Expect to see moderate growth during growing season.
Water Requirement: Low
Will grow in a drier position and is unlikely to need regular watering once established.
Maintenance: A little
Easy to look after but may occasionally require some attention in order to thrive.
Situation: Part Shade to Full Shade
Can enjoy several hours of direct sunlight, but also happy in full shade.
Eventual Height: 1.5m
The plant's ultimate height in typical growing conditions.
Eventual Spread: 1m
The plant's ultimate spread in typical growing conditions.
Hardiness: Fully Hardy
Will survive unprotected outdoors in most areas of the UK, even in the harshest winters.
Habit: Evergreen
Always in leaf throughout the year. It won't lose all its leaves at any one time.

Expert Tip

This shrub can grow very well in a large container. This can then be moved up near to the doorway in winter so the delicious fragrance can be enjoyed every day as you pass.
Care & Size Guidance

Care & Size Guidance

Whilst it will need regular watering in sunnier spots, this plant can be tolerant of dry shade and neglect once established. The shrub has an arching loose habit that forms attractive natural sprays, do not be tempted to prune too regularly or vigorously as you may spoil the shape and get fewer flowers. 

1 customer review for Sarcococca confusa

Do you have any larger sarcocca confusa?

Kevin brown