Graceful, creeping, 6- to 8-in.-high ground cover blooms in spring, sending up arching stems that bear small, nodding, delightfully sweet-scented, waxy white bells along one side. The flowers last only 2 to 3 weeks, but broad, bold, glossy green deciduous leaves are attractive throughout growing season. Bright red berries may appear in autumn; they, like the rest of the plant, are poisonous.
Selections include 'Aureo-variegata', with yellow-striped leaves; 'Fortin's Giant', to 1215 in. high, with extra-large blooms; 'Prolificans', a double-flowered form; and C. m. rosea, with light pink blooms. All are charming in woodland gardens; use as carpet between camellias, rhododendrons, pieris, or under deciduous trees or high-branching, not-too-dense evergreens. Best in Upper and Middle South. In Lower South, needs full shade and moist, rich soil that does not dry out. Can become invasive where well adapted.
Plant clumps or single rhizomes (commonly called pips) in fall before the soil freezes. Give rich soil with ample humus. Set 1 in. deep; space clumps 12 ft. apart, single pips 45 in. apart. Spread 1-in. layer of leaf mold, peat moss, or ground bark over bed each year in fall.
Large, prechilled pips are available in December and January and can be potted for bloom indoors in bright light. After bloom, plunge pots in ground in cool, shaded area. When dormant, remove plants from pots and plant in garden; or wash soil off pips, place in clearly labeled plastic bags, and store in vegetable bin of refrigerator until time to repot in December or January.