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Fragrant Mountain sweet box loves dry shade

Shade-loving Fragrant Mountain sweet box is an evergreen shrub that also works as a ground cover.
Shade-loving Fragrant Mountain sweet box is an evergreen shrub that also works as a ground cover.

This is the last in a weekly series featuring the UC Davis Arboretum’s “Garden Gems” series – 45 can’t-fail, easy-care, low-water plants well adapted to our region and that add sparkle to drought-tolerant landscapes.

Fragrant Mountain sweet box

Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis ‘Sarsid 2’

Size: Two feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide

Bloom season: Small, fragrant white blossoms in late winter and early spring.

Exposure: Shade or early morning sun.

Pruning needs: None.

Water needs: Low; once established, water deeply once a month.

Snapshot: As its name implies, this evergreen shrub is a sweet choice for dry shade. With shiny deep green leaves, sweet box stays tidy and compact. In late winter and early spring, it produces loads of little white fragrant flowers. By summer, those flowers turn into shiny near-black berries. Fragrant Mountain also can be grown as a ground cover in dry shady areas. It grows very well in places that can be difficult to landscape such as the north side of buildings or under trees. A plus for woodland gardens: Deer don’t like it.

For more on “Garden Gems,” click on arboretum.ucdavis.edu.

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