Umm I must start choosing plants with shorter names for my plant of the week, however the length of the name, each Plant of the week is selected on merit and Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis ‘Dragon Gate’ is certainly here for that reason!
Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis ‘Dragon Gate’ is a highly scented winter flowering shrub. It’s flowers can be scented many metres away from the plant and it’s always fun watching people searching for the source of the scent and being shocked when they find it’s coming from this shrub with tiny flowers.
Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis ‘Dragon Gate’ is a mouthful of a name but Sarcococca comes from the Greek works sarkos meaning flesh and kokkos meaning berry, really after the fleshy berries on the plant. Ruscifolia means Ruscus like leaves and chinensis means Chinese from the country of origin.
This Chinese form of the winter box was discovered by the great Roy Lancaster in 1980, outside a Chinese temple in the Yuccan area of China. This form is a compact form of Sarcococcca, growing to 0.6×0.6m wide shrub after 5yrs. The small but highly scented flowers are borne on the stems often at times, with the red/blue/black berries from last years flowers. These flowers are barely 5-10mm big and are open from mid December through to March time. The dark green glossy leaves are quite small even for a Sarcococco. It will grow quite happily in full sun, partial shade and deep shade. It is happy to grow in most soils as long as it’s not too waterlogged. It is a tough plant that isn’t effected by too many pests, as it’s a member of the Buxus family, it can suffer with box blight which is the worse It’s also pretty deer resistant. Like all Sarcococca, it can be trimmed after flowering to keep a more compact shape. Once it’s finished flowering again I give it a light feed of Vitax Q4.
Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis ‘Dragon Gate’ is easy to propagate. It’s either done but semi ripe cuttings taken in late summer or by sowing the seeds in early autumn into a free draining compost mix and lightly covered in grit
Sarcococca ruscifolia var. chinensis ‘Dragon Gate’ can be found in most large botanical gardens like RHS Wisley or Sir Harold Hillier Gardens. It is sold pretty widely by many places like RHSWisley Plant centre but also by trade nurseries like Provender nurseries in Kent
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