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Is anyone growing Sarcococca?

June 1, 2005

I've heard humelis may be more hardy than has been reported; up into zone 5, perhaps. Anyone growing it?

Comments (18)

  • gillespiegardens

    i have Sarcococca hookeriana (the species) in my gardens and it is doing very well. i believe yours is Sarcococca hookeriana var. humilis of which i have not grown....but i would assume yours would be as hardy as my hookeriana. i just love it and it makes a nice slow growing very shiny ground cover

    btw.... Sarcococca hookeriana is named after General Hooker from the civil war. our modern day streetwalkers that we also know as 'hookers' today got that name as back in the civil war days a band of prostitutes would follow General Hooker's troops and camp nearby them so they could make some money by 'servicing' Hooker's troops!!! Hence their designation of 'Hookers' who would have thunk???

    "The one thing all gardeners share in common is a belief in tomorrow"

  • BabyHelpful

    Thanks Sue. Cool info on the background of hookers and hookeriana; I love that sort of thing.

    I'm actually a bit farther north, in Springfield, sort of on the border of 6 and 5, that's why I was worried. But I think it will probably be okay. Maybe I'll just try one or two to start and see how they take the winter.

  • cecropia

    Sue,I knew prostitites were named for General Hooker,but why did they name a plant after him?
    Also,I thought Sarcococca was a shrub,not a ground cover.Where did you buy it,btw?

  • gillespiegardens

    hello Dan!

    maybe they named the plant after him to thank him for contributing to the morale of the war troops????
    well shoot.. who the heck knows for sure??
    actually its supposed to grow as a spreading groundcover 12-24 inches tall .... mine is the species and has never gotten more than 7 or 8 inches tall...though that could be due to the specific growing conditions in my gardens. this is the third year for it.... you may be thinking of a shrub because of its common name 'sweetbox' and we know buxus as box.... i got it from a nurseryman in the silver spring Maryland area named Bill Morris...( i was raised in that area ) it came from the nursery he manages but i cant recall the name off the top of my head.
    my mom will know if you can wait till i can ask her.
    Bill has awesome private gardens i have been to twice and
    one of the really cool things is his gardens were even featured on HGTV once... though i didnt know about it till after they aired that episode.

    "The one thing all gardeners share in common is a belief in tomorrow"

  • BabyHelpful

    There are three species of Sarcococca: Hookeriana, confusa, and ruscifolia. The last two grow to shrubs about 3-5 feet high, but are only hardy to zone 7. I'm fairly certain hookeriana also grows to be a shrub, except for hookeriana var. humilis, which grows as a groundcover 12-18 inches. Or maybe this far north it stays smaller. I think that may be what you have, Sue.

    I'm so excited to try some, it's just the coolest thing. Is it growing very slowly?

  • gillespiegardens

    actually after reading about them in horticopia just now i am sure that what i have is the var. humilis after all! the tag in the pot that was gven to me just said Sarcococca hookeriana and i never bothered to double check that.
    thanks for clarifying that for me and yes its a very slow growing but dense ground cover... at least in my shade garden. and its pretty much shade there in that part most of the time.

    "The one thing all gardeners share in common is a belief in tomorrow"

  • cecropia

    It sounds like a very cool plant,and perhaps I could get a cutting from yours,Sue.Btw,does it do ok in shade or pt shade,and are the leaves evergreen?

  • granny57

    Being a newbie,
    I have just found other forums to post in and ran into this one by accident and who do you susppose I see posting?
    My good friend and fellow gardener Sue, She's every where!!
    I never know where I'm gonna find her.((BIG GRINS))!
    I;m so glad she is my friend, I never get bored roaming in her gardens and learning more and new information on plants.
    I will stay in this forum and read all the new plant info you all supply. Hi Dan! It was nice meeting you at the swap.

  • gillespiegardens


    Yes sarcoccoa is evergreen. it blooms in the middle of the winter and the flowers are very small and nondescript...lucky thing for it that it also is known for its very wonderful flower fragrance... ive never tried a cutting of it but theres only way to find out!!

    hello Margie ...fancy meeting you here! thanks for the compliment and you have some nice gardens too!

    "The one thing all gardeners share in common is a belief in tomorrow."

  • michigoose

    one thing I will warn you about it....at least in my garden, I lost the first two I planted as my soil didn't have good enough drainage....clay soil in CT. I know you have a variety of soils down there, but my soil in Troy is lovely yellow clay, so I thought I'd throw that in.

  • BabyHelpful

    Thanks for the heads up! Our soil is very clay-ey, so we will amend it wherever we put the little guys in.

  • cecropia

    Hi Margie.It was nice meeting you too.I am on this forum every now and then,and have noticed it is seldom very "busy" like some of the other ones,especially the plant exchange forum.

  • granny57

    Boy isn't that the truth?!! I don't think any other forum is or was as busy or chattie as the plant exchange forum. That was a great time for me.And a wonderful experience!!
    I will be getting ready for the fall swap soon.
    Look forward to seeing you again.

  • JulieOToole

    Surely sarcococca hookeriana was named for Joseph Dalton Hooker (arguably the most important British botanist of the nineteenth century. A traveller and plant-collector, he was one of Charles DarwinÂs closest friends and eventually became director of BritainÂs Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew) rather than general Hooker!

  • gillespiegardens


    Your comments certainly make sense. the story of General Hooker has such widespread acceptance that folks tend to accept it as the gospel when they hear it time and time and time again.

  • vanhouttewim

    hello everyone,
    this is my collection of sarcococca, in zone 7 (belgium, europe)
    i have more than 220 different buxus,
    does anyone in usa has a large collection of buxus who could exchange with me?
    best greetings , wim

    sarcococca cariaceum
    sarcococca confusa
    sarcococca hookeriana
    sarcococca hookeriana Dygina
    sarcococca hookeriana Dragons Gate
    sarcococca hookeriana Purple Stem
    sarcococca humilis
    sarcococca orientalis
    sarcococca ruscifolia chinensis
    sarcococca saligna
    sarcococca wallichii

  • stukin

    I'm in zone 5 and have been growing Sarcococa for at least 40 years. If we have a prolonged period of severe cold temps with no snow coverage, some of the leaves might "burn", but otherwise it's very hardy. We've had some really cold winters that were more like zone 4 (minus 10 to 15F.), and my Sarcococa came thought just fine. It's a lot hardier than most people think. It's also extremely drought tolerant. Once it's established, it's practically bullet proof.

  • Skylights

    Sarcococca hookeriana was named for Joseph Hooker who collected widely in the Sikkim Himalayas in 1848/9 and greatly added to the botanical knowledge of this area. This plant is from Himalaya.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Information

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