top of page

New This Week

May 18, 2022

Shrubs of the Week: Variegated Winter Daphne and Sweet Box

It's shady business this week as we highlight two shade-loving shrubs that are ON SALE this week!

It's shady business this week as we highlight two shade-loving shrubs that are ON SALE this week! Even better, they're both broadleaf evergreens and have fragrant blooms. We'd like to honor those gardens that most gardeners feel are "limited" due to less sun exposure. (Next week we'll highlight a couple of full sun loving shrubs, because those of use with full sun can feel limited too!)

Variegated Winter Daphne - White or Pink Blooming (Daphne odora aureo-marginata)

(Pictured above)

Winter Daphne is highly regarded for its strong scent - possibly the most delightful scent of any flower! This shrub blooms in late winter (late February and March) along the terminal stems. This particular variety has variegated leaves - yellow margins along the green leaves. This shrub would do best planted under a small deciduous tree where it is provided with shade in the hot summer months, but allowed to stand out in a winter landscape. Plant in an area where everyone can enjoy the fragrance. Mature height and width 4-5' in a loose mounding appearance / zones 7-9 / deer resistant.

Daphne makes a great addition to a winter garden, but do note this shrub can be a bit challenging to grow if you're not aware of a few of its care needs:

1) Daphne does not tolerate soils with poor drainage...we're looking at you, clay soils! Root rot diseases associated with poorly drained soils are likely the major cause of failure in the landscape. Ideally, plant in well-drained woodland soil with plenty of humus or plant in a slightly raised bed with amended soil to ensure adequate drainage.

2) While Winter Daphne can tolerate full sun, it prefers a protected area providing moderate shade.

3) Avoid pruning - Daphne does not heal well from cuts into mature wood, so it's best to avoid pruning. However, "pinching" or taking cuttings from the slender tips of long shoots on current year's growth can make the plant fuller and promote heavier blooming.

Sweet Box (Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis)
Sweet Box (photo: Missouri Botanic Gardens)

Sweet Box (Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis)

Sweet box is a slow growing evergreen shrub that forms a colony by spreading through underground stems. This is a dwarf variety and is often used as a high ground cover as it only reaches 1-2' tall and 3-4' wide. Sweet Box is a very tough and adaptable plant! It can tolerate deep, deep shade and even dry soils. It prefers slightly acidic, rich, moist soils that are well-drained. If the soil is very moist, Sweet Box can handle a little more sun. Inconspicuous blooms in early spring (mid-March) are white and fragrant. Great evergreen foliage with a contrasting light green on the underside of the leaves. Works well in a woodland garden or near shady entryways. Hardy in zones 6-9.

bottom of page