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Sweet Box/sarcococca not doing well, but why?

elderberryelderberry Posts: 112
I had a couple of sweet box in pots, and planted one out into my east facing, free draining, semi-shaded alkali soil, here in the SE of England. It started to lose its leaves and so I rescued it back into a pot, but I think it's too late. I planted the other one last autumn in the same garden, but in a different position, and it's starting to yellow and the leaves look a bit crinkly, so I've hoiked that out. What could be wrong? I've read that they are OK in any soil, but it seems like chlorosis. It's pretty sheltered in that garden, too. They were doing OK on my west facing patio, and none of the other plants in that garden have any problems.
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  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,375
    Chlorosis unlikely, they do well in my very alkaline soil. Do you know which Sarcococca it is? S. confusa is the most reliable here, always dark green and beautiful. Are they getting too much sun? all mine are in the shade
  • I’m on very alkaline soil as well and I’ve got my sacococca planted in shade and they are doing well.If they were both originally planted in pots I wonder if they have been attacked by vine weevil so there roots are depleted.
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  • elderberryelderberry Posts: 112
    I’m on very alkaline soil as well and I’ve got my sacococca planted in shade and they are doing well.If they were both originally planted in pots I wonder if they have been attacked by vine weevil so there roots are depleted.

    The roots look OK.

  • elderberryelderberry Posts: 112
    nutcutlet said:
    Chlorosis unlikely, they do well in my very alkaline soil. Do you know which Sarcococca it is? S. confusa is the most reliable here, always dark green and beautiful. Are they getting too much sun? all mine are in the shade
    They only get direct sun for a couple of hours. The latest one hasn't had any sun, because it's been in there over winter. There has been a cold east wind, but the other plants are fine.
  • nutcutletnutcutlet PeterboroughPosts: 26,375
    Unlike Mrs Glaze I haven't found they object to disturbance, I've been quite brutal.
    I've no experience of pot culture.
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,638
    Do you know which type are they? I agree that Confusa are one of the best ones with deep green glossy leaves. The smaller varieties like Hookerianas tend to suffer in wind and also in harsh sun. There are many of these Hookerianas planted on a south facing very free draining soil in the estate I live in, and they have been sulking for years. Never healthy looking and always looking pale and sparse. Doesn't stop them producing huge amounts of flowers with knock-out fragrance though.

    I would try putting lots of well rotted manure and compost in your soil and make it less free draining as you say and re-plant them again. They do better in heavier soils. 
  • elderberryelderberry Posts: 112

    I would try putting lots of well rotted manure and compost in your soil and make it less free draining as you say and re-plant them again. They do better in heavier soils. 

    Thanks, that sounds like a good plan.
    I've got 3 plants, Hookeriana, Orientalis, and Confusa. I'm not sure which is which, but the one that's not been in the ground is fine.


  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,638
    You could always Google for images to see if you recognise them. They need a bit of shelter. Try to place near a barrier or other taller shrubs. They do not like the high winds. Apart from Confusa, I think many garden centres try to make it seem like the shrubs can grow on any type of soil. I think in reality, they prefer a much more richer and heavier soil over dry free draining soil.
  • UpNorthUpNorth South Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK Posts: 376
    MrsGlaze said:
    I don't think Sarcococca like to be disturbed once growing, I believe it may have just been the actual removal from pot to ground that affected them

    ahh!!   i have one in a nursery bed which was to be moved any week now ( weather permitting).....does anyone else concur with this and advice on giving it the best chance? ???  Mine simply can't stay where it is, it will be far too big for the bed.
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