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Sarcococca is a slow-growing evergreen shrub from southeast Asia that has become popular across the world as a shade-loving plant. Do Sarcococca plants like acidic growing conditions, and can they be grown in ericaceous compost?
Sacrococca is an acid-loving plant and needs ericaceous compost or another soil-acidifying agent to lower the soil pH. Like ericaceous plants, Sarcococca needs a soil pH in the range of 5.5 to 6.0 to adequately access nutrients, sustain healthy growth, and produce abundant flowers.
Sarcococca is an exotic plant with a very specific growing environment in its natural habitat. It can be a little challenging to grow this plant in certain regions, but engineering its growing space to emulate its natural habitat closely will help the plant thrive. Ericaceous compost is a key factor for success with Sarcococca.
Is Ericaceous Compost Needed To Grow Sarcococca?
Sarcococca is commonly known as the “Sweet box” or “Christmas box” plant. The box part of the common name comes from its Latin plant family name, Buxaceae.
The “sweet” part of the name is in reference to the honey-like fragrance of the white flowers the shrub produces.
The “Christmas” part of the common name refers to the time of year the shrub produces the flowers. It is a winter-flowering plant, which in the northern hemisphere, is around Christmas time.
Sorcococca is a popular plant as a low hedge and to bring winter color to shaded areas of the garden, but the soil needs some preparation before planting this shrub.
Is Ericaceous Compost Good For Sorcococca?
Sarcococca is typically found in southeast Asia’s higher, mountainous regions, where it thrives in shaded areas with acidic soil.
The soil pH range best suited to Sarcococca is between 5.5 and 6.0, which is considerably more acidic than most other typical garden plants.
The pH requirement is very similar to that of the Ericaceous plant families, the Camilias, Rhododendrons, Cranberries, Blueberries, Azaleas, and Vaccinium.
If you already have these plants in your garden, the Sarcococca will fit right in and can be planted in the same garden bed as these acid-loving plants.
Ericaceous compost is so named because it is the ideal compost to pair with ericaceous plants. The compost acidifies the soil, making the growing environment suited to these plants.
Since Sarcococca prefers a soil pH in the same range as the ericaceous plants, ericaceous compost is also ideal for this shrub.
Other Benefits Of Ericaceous Compost For Sarcococca
The other growing requirements of Sarcococca include moist, well-drained, fertile soil. Ericaceous compost also meets these needs for the Christmas box.
Ericaceous compost contains high-value nutrients for the plant, and it can improve the soil structure, aeration, drainage, and moisture retention to bring the soil in line with what the Sarcococca shrub needs.
The organic material in the ericaceous compost provides these additional environmental modifications important for the plant’s success.
When Is The Best Time To Apply Ericaceous Compost To Sacrococca?
There are several times that ericaceous compost should be applied when growing Sacrococca. We will include the initial preparation, assuming you do not already have a garden bed prepared for other ericaceous plants.
1. Garden Bed Preparation With Ericaceous Compost
If you do not have a garden bed prepared for acid-loving plants, you must prepare a new bed for the Sarcococca shrub.
Sacrococca is best planted in early spring, so you can prepare the garden bed as early as possible after winter has come to an end.
The process is the same as preparing the bed for other ericaceous plants. If you are only preparing a planting hole for the Sarcococca, dig the hole out and mix the removed soil with ericaceous compost in the ratio of 2 parts garden soil to 8 parts ericaceous compost.
Put the mixture back in the planting hole and water it in. Let the mixture set for about a week before testing the pH and planting the Sarcococca shrub.
2. Feeding Sarcococca With Ericaceous Compost
Feed your Sarcococca shrub annually by digging in ericaceous compost at the base of the shrub the same way you would any other compost.
The ericaceous compost mixed into the upper layers of the soil will feed the plant from the top down and help to re-acidify the soil.
3. Mulching Sarcococca With Ericaceous Compost
Mulching with ericaceous compost is a good way to maintain soil acidity and retain moisture to prevent the Sarcococca from drying out too much.
Spread a layer of the compost about 1 to 2 inches thick around the plant’s base. Over time, this layer will decompose and can be replenished as needed.
The mulch layer keeps the plant’s roots cool and moist in summer and warm in the winter, which is another benefit of using compost as mulch.
Other Ways To Acidify Soil for Sarcococca
Ericaceous compost is not a cheap gardening commodity, which leads gardeners to try other methods to maintain the acidity soil’s acidity.
Used coffee grounds are a great way to lower a soil’s pH and add nitrogen to the growing environment at the same time.
Save all the coffee grounds from your kitchen, let them dry out a little, and sprinkle them around the base of the Sarcococca shrub once a week.
Another method I have found to work quite well is to use a vinegar drench on the soil. Mix 1 tablespoon of white vinegar per gallon of water.
Dig a small depression or well around the base of the shrub, about a foot away from the shrub’s stem. This will contain the vinegar drench above the plant’s roots and prevent it from flowing all over the garden bed.
Pour the water into the well and slowly let it soak into the soil. A gallon of vinegar drench every two weeks is generally sufficient to maintain the soil pH in the right acidic range.
Sarcococca is a beautiful plant that produces a spectacular flower show in the winter when most other plants are bare and dry. These shrubs need acidic soil to grow to their full potential, and ericaceous compost is an ideal way to prepare the soil for them.
Periodic feeding with ericaceous compost will help maintain the pH level and provide the high fertility in the soil that the Sarcococca shrub prefers.