Here at CountryLife we sell lots of Skimmias and it is easy to see why they are getting more popular year after year. This versatile evergreen shrub has so many benefits to both the garden and the gardener. It will grow equally well in open ground or containers and because of their slow growing habit they need very little or no pruning.
The main attraction is the berries that appear from September through to March, six months of red berries! The pinkish/white flower buds, which appear in autumn and winter, are a prominent feature of the plant, as are the scented flowers which open in spring.
- Getting the best out of your Skimmia
- Top 3 tips for successfully growing Skimmias
- Will my Skimmias have berries?
- Different Varieties of Skimmia
- Best fertiliser to use for Skimmias
- We’re here to help
- Skimmia japonica ‘WINNIE’S DWARF’
- Cheat Sheet
- Keep It Alive
- HOW TO GROW SKIMMIA
- DIFFERENT VARIETIES OF SKIMMIA
- HOW TO CARE FOR A SKIMMIA
- GROWING SKIMMIAS IN CONTAINERS
- SKIMMIA PESTS AND DISEASES
- SKIMMIA SUMMARY
- Skimmia Japonica Obsession
- Skimmia Japonica Care
- How to Propagate Japanese skimmia
- Skimmia Pest or Disease Problems
- Suggested Uses for Skimmia
Getting the best out of your Skimmia
Before I go on and talk about the different varieties available I would like to discuss how to get the best out of your Skimmias. These frost hardy shrubs look after themselves pretty well and need very little attention but by following a few guidelines you will have successful flourishing plants that give interest all year round.
Top 3 tips for successfully growing Skimmias
- Positioning, Skimmias do best in semi shaded areas where they receive dappled light throughout the day.
- Sun exposure, too much can lead to unattractive yellowing of leaves, known as chlorosis.
- The roots like to be kept moist and do not tolerate dry conditions at all. If planting in a container make sure there is enough drainage that it doesn’t get waterlogged in winter.
Will my Skimmias have berries?
The number one question customers ask is, ‘Will my Skimmia have berries?’ My first reply is usually, ‘What variety do you have?’ The reason I ask this is because most Skimmias are dioecious, meaning they will either have male or female flowers on different plants just like our native Holly tree.
Both a male and female plant is needed in order to get berries. The pollen from male flowers fertilises the female flowers, resulting in berries on the female plant only. To find out which is male or female you will need to check the variety of the plant.
Different Varieties of Skimmia
Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ is an old favourite with most gardeners in Ireland and has been given an ‘Award of Garden Merit’ which is for plants of outstanding excellence. It is a compact variety with rich dark leaves that form impressive clusters of deep red flower buds throughout autumn and winter. In early spring the buds open into strong scented white flowers but unfortunately will never produce berries as ‘Rubella’ is a male plant.
Skimmia japonica Rubella Image by-Pinterest
Skimmia japonica ‘Obsession’, definitely my favourite, is a new variety of Skimmia japonica. It has been very popular with gardeners in recent years because it is a hermaphrodite which means it can self-fertilise and you are guaranteed berries every year because of this. So unlike other Skimmia varieties where you need a male and a female plant to get berries this one does all the work itself. What makes Skimmia ‘Obsession’ so special are the beautiful red berries combined with the red flower buds which appear on the plant in the autumn, bursting into flower around March.
Skimmia ‘Magic Merlot’ is a miniature version that has deep purple flower buds on variegated foliage. The light green leaves which are edged in a bright rich yellow colour are very popular for brightening up containers or seasonal planters. The leaves make a great backdrop to the plant’s darker flower buds. The flower buds start to appear in early autumn and then open up to white flowers in spring.
Skimmia ‘Magic Merlot’ Image by- Pinterest
Best fertiliser to use for Skimmias
Skimmia will grow well in most gardens but they do prefer a slightly acidic soil. Adding a top dress of Growise Ericaceous Compost or Miracle-Grow Slow , release Ericaceous granules every spring will benefit them and make nutrients available to them.
To get the best from my Skimmia ‘Obsession’ I like to feed it using Ocean leaves liquid Seaweed Extract Fertiliser. I find seaweed fertiliser best, as it offers Skimmia everything they need and gives you lush green health foliage.
Ocean Leaves Liquid Sea Weed Fertiliser
We’re here to help
If you need any help with choosing the best varieties of skimmias for your garden talk to any of our horticulturists in store. We’d love to help. If you have a Skimmia already bring in the variety or a photo if you don’t know, and our horticulturists can identify if it’s a male or female variety.
If you visit a garden centre this weekend you are more than likely to see an array of different skimmia shrubs, many of which will be exhibiting gorgeous looking lush red berries. Skimmias are not one of the cheaper plants to buy for your garden and a young two to three litre potted plant will usually cost about £30. You may notice that there is a variation in price depending on the size of the “berries” on the plant, those with large red berries fetching a higher price than those with smaller clusters of reddish buds. The plants with large red berries are females and those with the small buds are males.
Male or Female?
Although male skimmias are usually less expensive, they won’t give you the wonderful red berry display of their female counterparts. However if you do opt to buy a red berried female plant make sure to buy a male too since the female plant will not produce the berries unless it’s flowers are fertilised by a male during the spring / summer flowering season.
There are now certain cultivars which are hermaphrodites and will produce red berries without a nearby male because they are able to fertilise themselves one of these being skimmia japonica reevesiana.
A good choice for a male skimmia is skimmia japonica rubella, as it is very attractive, with lovely dark red flower buds in winter.
Skimmias are an ideal garden shrub and very undemanding. They are attractive throughout the year with their dark green often glossy evergreen leaves and a profusion of small white or yellow flowers in the spring and early summer which turn into the glossy red berries on female plants during the autumn and winter and the smaller clusters of purply flower buds on male plants.
As stated above they are an undemanding drought resistant plant which also tolerates frost and air pollution. They are best planted in semi shade as their leathery green leaves can get burned in full bright sunlight.
They are what is known as an ericaceous plant that is they prefer an acidic soil although they can grow nicely in a neutral soil with an addition of ericaceous compost. They will not do well in an alkaline soil.
If you do have an alkaline soil then you can add sulphur to make it more acidic. You can buy sulphur powder for gardens in most garden centres. I recommend mixing the sulphur with the soil / compost you have dug out of the hole where you intend to place your skimmia.
Skimmias will look after themselves and do not require pruning unless you want to train it into a particular shape – a great shrub for the lazy gardener!!
Skimmia japonica ‘WINNIE’S DWARF’
Skimmia is a small, evergreen shrub from Japan. After the year 2000 there have been a number of new varieties which are still being tested for stability of their featured characteristics. The aim is to select a plant distinctly different from the species which is why Winnie’s Dwarf skimmia has already been released to trade as a new plant.
Winnie’s Dwarf is a dwarf, slow growing skimmia with evergreen, leathery, broadly elliptic, glossy, and deep green leaves. In early spring tiny flowers come out and if pollinated by pollen from male plants they produce abundance of rich red, glossy, berries (not edible). This variety forms a low mound or cushion, and requires no pruning.
If you plant it well you needn’t look after it any longer except for occasional watering in dry spells. There are a few rules you have to follow if you want your skimmia look perfect: the soil has to be always moist but extremely well-drained, acidic (add peat), light (add leaf mould), and most of all humus-rich. The best location is dappled shade or even deep shade (shady back of your house or under thick canopies of tall trees). When leaves turn pale or yellow the plant suffers from too much sun or water, or too little nutrients in the soil. Skimmia is tolerant of atmospheric pollution. The plant is poisonous. Hardy to approx. -27°C (USDA zone 5b).
Last update 14-02-2013
Female berrying skimmias: S. japonica ‘Nymans’ (Award of Garden Merit), S. japonica ‘Veitchi’, S. japonica ‘Tansley Gem’.
Male pollinating skimmias (all RHS Award of Garden Merit holders): S. x confusa ‘Kew Green’, S. japonica ‘Fragrans’, S. japonica ‘Rubella’.
Above: Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’.
A zestier variety—and designer favorite—is Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’. Because of its citrus-and-green coloring, it is less associated with holiday arrangements and makes a good impact growing alone or with other evergreens. Being male, ‘Kew Green’ is also useful in pollinating female skimmias, for berries.
Above: Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’ which grows wider than tall, typically reaching waist height.
The white open flowers of Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’ are similar to those of the regular varieties, except that the background of each flower is green instead of red. Both are magnets for bees, sending out one of the best scents of spring.
Above: Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’ in blossom.
- Excellent structural plants in a small urban courtyard or in front of a house; skimmias are happy in dry shade.
- Skimmia berries are bigger and brighter than those of holly and it’s worth growing a male among females, or a self-fertile variety.
- Skimmias grow naturally into a loose dome and do not require pruning, except perhaps for minor adjustments.
Above: Skimmia preparing to bloom in early spring, with box and arum.
Keep It Alive
- Skimmias are fairly indestructable, tolerating drought.
- They are not fussy about soil but are happy in acid conditions, making them good companions for azaleas, rhododendrons, and camellias.
- Skimmias tolerate life in a pot, although yellowing leaves are a sign of iron deficiency (in which case add sequestered iron).
Above: Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ in spring.
Get ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for more of our favorite shrubs and hedges with our Shrubs: A Field Guide. To see how mature shrubs will look in your garden, read:
- Landscape Ideas: Blazing Color with Red Twig Dogwood, 5 Ways
- Azaleas 101: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design
- 10 Garden Ideas to Steal from Instagrammers
- Winter Enchantment: 9 Best Witch Hazels for a Luminous Garden
- 10 Best Garden Design Ideas for 2018
HOW TO GROW SKIMMIA
Article by David Marks
Skimmias are evergreen shrubs growing to about 1m (3ft) high and roughly the same spread. They originate from Japan, China and spread West to the lower parts of the Himalayas. They are grown for their foliage and where male and female plants are present, for the female plant’s berries. Ideal for small gardens, containers and gardeners who sometimes neglect their plants.
Use the checklist below to decide if a Skimmia is suited to your garden conditions.
- They need semi-shade throughout the year and will tolerate full shade well. In very low light conditions the plant may become leggy. Their natural habitat is in forests and woods where low light levels are common. if they are grown in full sun the leaves will burn very easily.
- Grow equally well in open ground and containers to an eventual size of 1m (3ft) height and spread.
- Can be grown as a low hedge when planted about 45cm / 18in apart.
- They have a definite preference for slightly acidic soil although they can grow well in neutral soil with a little help. They do not grow well in alkaline soils. See here for more information on acid and alkaline soil.
- Tolerate periods of drought especially when grown in the open ground. Their leaves are leathery and retain moisture well.
- Tolerate neglect well mainly because their nutrient requirement are low and they grow well with no pruning.
- They produce attractive flower buds from November and these open out into flowers March / April.
- If male and female Skimmias are planted together the females can produce attractive red berries in May to June. Male varieties will not produce berries.
- All parts of Skimmia, including the berries, can cause discomfort if eaten.
DIFFERENT VARIETIES OF SKIMMIA
The most commonly found variety of Skimmia in the UK (and around the world) is Skimmia japonica. This is strong growing and probably the hardiest of all the varieties. It produces flower buds and flowers freely and it is difficult to see why you would choose any other variety. Because it is so commonly grown it is also the cheapest to buy in garden centres, online and in other shops.
There are three cultivars (types) of Skimmia japonica readily available in the UK and these are:
Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ – totally evergreen, strong growing and healthy. The leaves are deep green, leathery. In late winter it produces purple red flower buds freely which look good. In March / April the buds open up and cover the plant in masses of tiny white flowers. This plant is male.
Readily available to buy online from the GardenFocused recommended supplier, .
Skimmia japonica ‘Fragrans’ – the same as Rubella above but the flower buds are a light pink / green and the flowers are white and cream. This plant is also male.
Skimmia japonica ‘Nymans’ – the same as Rubella above but the flowers are not quite as prolific. This is a female variety though and will produce red berries in autumn if fertilised by a nearby male variety. Readily available to buy online from the GardenFocused recommended supplier, if you want to buy Skimmia japonica ‘Nymans’ now.
A Skimmia japonica in flower (click to enlarge)
There are other Skimmias and the two most common are listed below:
Skimmia confusa (‘Kew Green’) – the same as Rubella above but the buds are lime green and the flowers more yellow. I’m never sure why this variety would be bought in preference to any of the above other than it’s different. The others are more colourful and strong growing.
Skimmia reevesiana – different from all those above because this variety is hermaphrodite and produce berries without fertilisation from nearby male plants. The flowers are white and appear all over the plant in March / April. Red berries appear in late autumn and last for several months. if you want to buy Skimmia reevesiana online now.
HOW TO CARE FOR A SKIMMIA
All Skimmias require the same care and luckily enough that is very minimal. These are plants which can stand a good degree of neglect although of course they do of the very best when treated correctly.
Skimmias can be grown equally well in pots or in the open ground.
Skimmia do best on a slightly acid soil. Before adding anything to the ground you need to know if your soil is acidic, neutral or alkaline. The best way to do this is to buy a soil testing kit online or from your local garden centre.
Alkaline or neutral ground can changed to be more acidic by adding sulphur. The finer the sulphur the quicker it will act, Flowers of Sulphur is a common name for very fine sulphur and is avaialable online or from most garden centres.
If your soil is alkaline I would recommend digging the soil to 30cm / 1 foot deep and adding half the recommended dose to the dug soil. Dig it in well, plant your skimmia and scatter the remaining half around the plant.
If your soil is neutral, just add the recommended dose to the soil surface and work it in gently with a trowel. Don’t go overboard with the sulphur, it’s easy to make the ground too acidic. Leave it a year and then add more next year if the skimmia shows signs of leaves yellowing.
You can add ericaceous compost instead although it’s now believed that sulphur is best when planting skimmia in open ground.
Choose a position which is in semi-shade for all of the year, full shade is also fine as long as natural light reaches the plant. North facing garden situations are ideal for Skimmias, and not many other shrubs do well in these conditions.
If planted in reasonably good garden soil then that’s it for your Skimmia, it will be more than happy to look after itself without any pruning, feeding or other care – truly a delightful shrub for the lazy gardener! They will last for around 20 years.
GROWING SKIMMIAS IN CONTAINERS
When planting a Skimmia in a container it’s best to remember that the plant can easily last for twelve years and twenty years is a real possibility. With that in mind choose a good container which will look good for all that time and also frost hardy.
Our choice would be a plain terracotta pot because the colour contrasts with the foliage well. After a couple of years the pot will age with lichen and other green / brown marks and that looks fantastic, a real cottage garden appearance.
Plant in pots full of ericaceous compost for the correct soil acidity. Feed in March and August with an ericaceous plant food and water when conditions are dry. This will be more frequently needed from June to early September.
Rainwater is preferable over tap water as far as Skimmias are concerned. Tap water is often too alkaline and slightly acid water is preferable. Water from a water butt is the ideal solution for almost all container grown plants. Prune lightly after flowering to maintain shape and size.
Skimmia are fully frost hardy and survive harsh winters even when grown in containers. For safety though we move our container grown Skimmia next to the house from November to the end of February. This provides some protection from harsh winds and the house protects your plant from the worst of the deep frosts. Our plant has been growing for eight years in the Midlands very successfully with no more attention than that described above.
SKIMMIA PESTS AND DISEASES
Skimmias are very healthy plants and rarely suffer from pests or diseases. One pest which does occasionally occur is the spider mite. In truth, a healthy Skimmia will not be badly affected by these pests and they are best ignored. If you notice them on the leaves then a strong spray with insecticidal soap will clear most of them.
YELLOWING LEAVES ON SKIMMIA
One common complaint with Skimmias, discussed briefly above, is yellowing of leaves. See the picture below for a good example.
Skimmia leaf yellowing
If you click the above picture it will enlarge and you can see that the middle leaf looks healthy whereas the two other leaves have yellow marks on them. In most cases this is caused by the plant not being able to absorb nutrients because the soil is too alkaline. The solution is to top up with ericaceous compost and feed with plant food for acid loving plants. The odd used tea bag worked onto the soil surface also does wonders to turn soil slightly more acidic.
If you know your Skimmia is growing in acidic soil but the leaves are still yellow the next possibility is a magnesium deficiency. This can affect a wide variety of plants and Skimmias are no exception. The solution is simple, add the correct amount of Epsom Salts to the ground surrounding the plant. You should notice a difference after a couple of months especially on new foliage.
A quick search on your favourite search engine (“Epsom salts and plants”) will come up with several products for gardeners to counter a magnesium deficiency. Just make sure you buy one for plants because it is also used for horses and the dosage rate will be very different! Follow the instructions on the pack and don’t over apply Epsom salts, too much can also cause problems.
The final cause of yellowing Skimmia leaves is too much sun. Skimmias prefer part shade conditions, full sun all day especially in warmer areas is not their preferred situation. With container grown Skimmias, the solution is easy, move the container to a more shaded position.
If the plant is growing in a border the only solution is to dig it up and move it. Skimmias are tough plants and can be moved with a high chance of success. The best time to move it is in late autumn but before the frosts arrive. If the plant is too big to move, prune it in spring and then move it in autumn, don’t prune it in autumn.
Snails often enjoy munching on the leaves of Skimmia and after a wet spring they can do significant damage. They prefer the older leaves for some reason and the picture below shows this clearly.
Significant damage caused by snails
The easiest solution to snail damage is either to regularly pick them off or scatter slug pellets around the area. For more information on snails see our page dedicated to this pest.
Below we list the key strengths and weaknesses of Skimmias.
|POT / CONTAINER||Yes|
|FLOWER TIME||March to May|
Other “easy-care” shrubs and perennials in this series include Choisya, Hebes, Hellebore, Mock Orange, Lilacs, Potentilla and Rose of Sharon (hibiscus syriacus). Click the link below for the full list of our shrub care guides.
Skimmia Japonica Obsession
Available Sizes to buy online All Prices Include VAT Height Excluding Pot:
40-50cm (1ft 3-1ft 7)
Plant shape: Bush
Pot size: 7.5 Litres
Plant ID: 376 B 38
Click to view photo of this size
|Skimmia Japonica Obsession||
This image displays plant 40-50 cm tall.
Height Excluding Pot:
Plant shape: Bush
Pot size: 7.5 Litres
Plant ID: 376 B 38
Was £95.00 40% Off – Now £57.00
Skimmia Japonica Obsession
This new variety of Skimmia called Obsession has proven to be very popular. Skimmia Japonica Obsession is a compact, low-growing evergreen shrub. What makes Skimmia Japonica Obsession so special are the beautiful bright red berries combined with the reddish flower buds which appear on the plant in the autumn, bursting into masses of white scented flowers around March. This variety produces much more berries than other Skimmia varieties and they persist longer on the shrub as well. These features, together with the compact growth habit and dark green foliage make this a uniquely attractive plant.
Obsession is a female variety of Skimmia, and as a result, it will require a male Skimmia shrub nearby to produce flowers- such as Skimmia Kew Green or Skimmia Japonica Godrie’s Dwarf Green.
The compact growth habit, stunning blossom followed by vivid red berries and evergreen dark glossy foliage make Skimmia Obsession a uniquely attractive plant. Its low-maintenance nature and suitability for growing in containers are added bonuses!
Height and Spread of Skimmia Japonica Obsession
On average, this particular variety grows to be between 30 to 90 centimetres high and across in a period of 10 years.
How Hardy is Skimmia Japonica Obsession
Skimmia Obsession is hardy in the United Kingdom, and it does not require any special sheltering in the winter.
How To Care for Skimmia Japonica Obsession
Growing tip – Skimmia likes a normal to acid soil and will thrive when grown in pots. Choose a spot in dappled shade to full shade for best results.
How To Use Skimmia Japonica Obsession
This gorgeous evergreen shrub is ideally suited for growing in pots. Plant in a large container for year-round interest on your patio or rooftop garden. The flowering, berry-producing Skimmia Obsession will fit right in the garden as well- use it to brighten a border or underplant a tree.
FREQUENTLY BOUGHT WITH >> Skimmia x Confusa Kew Green Phillyrea angustifolia – Jasmine Box Skimmia Japonica Pabella Azalea Japonica Kirin 22
Skimmia japonica • Japanese Skimmia
Gardeners, I may say from personal experience, are no less prone to idiotic ideas than the rest of the populace. Wouldn’t it be grand, I thought recently, to have a Japanese woodland in the front yard? The fact that Boston is not Japan, and that the front yard is already pretty well planted up, did not obtrude into this process. Ultimately, faced with the grim realities of limited space and increasingly skittish neighbors, the plans for bamboo groves and copses of Japanese maples had to be given up. But not, I am happy to report, the skimmias, of which there are now eight, lining a path on either side in charming fashion, like a family of happy green turtles. It is not a Japanese woodland, but it is enough. For now.
Skimmia japonica is the species you are most likely to find in nurseries and mail-order catalogs, and since it is as beautiful as any other member of the genus, there is no need to go whoring after novelties. Each shrub forms a neat, domelike mound of dark green, glossy foliage that grows slowly to about three to four feet high and as much across. (In mild parts of the country, it can easily exceed these dimensions.) The essential fact to bear in mind is that the species is dioecious—that is, male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. Thus, if you want to get a late-fall or winter crop of the conspicuous red fruits—and you assuredly do—then you will need at least one male plant to pollinate your females. Actually, the male plants would be worth having even if they weren’t needed for, ahem, stud duty, because their flower clusters, which begin forming in the fall, are even showier than those of the females, with deep red buds that open in early spring to small white flowers. They also carry the bonus of a delicious fragrance, which is almost undetectable in the females. If you can bring yourself to sacrifice a few branches, both the female berry clusters and the male flower buds, taken with some of the foliage, make excellent evergreenery for decorating the house during the holidays.
Though I wouldn’t characterize S. japonica as fussy, it does need shade (sun scorches the foliage), which can be quite deep, provided the site in which the shrubs are planted isn’t inordinately dry and rooty. The soil should also be on the acid side of neutral (below pH 7.0), and supplemental water may be needed during dry spells. A mulch of shredded oak leaves or pinestraw is a good idea, in any event. Also, the hotter and muggier the climate, the more susceptible S. japonica becomes to spider mite damage, which means, unfortunately, that it’s not a good choice for the lower South. If, however, you can provide the conditions it needs, I’d be surprised if this trim, elegant woodlander didn’t quickly rise to the top of your list of favorites.
- Type of plant: evergreen shrub
- Family: Rutaceae (citrus family)
- Origin: Japan, Korea, and China
- Height/spread: both 3–4 ft. (exceptionally to 6 ft.)
- Habit: mounded, domelike
- Leaves: elliptic-oblong, simple, dark glossy green above, yellow green beneath, 2–5 in. long
- Flowers: 1/3 in. across, creamy white, opening from reddish-maroon buds, borne in panicles 2 in. long and wide; male flowers larger and more fragrant
- Bloom period: March–April
- Fruits: bright red, 1/3 in. across, ripening in October and held through winter, borne only on female plants
- Hardiness: USDA Zones 6–9; Sunset Zones 4–9, 14–22, 31, 32, 34
- Propagation: by seed (cleaned of pulp) or cuttings taken in fall and treated with rooting hormone
A version of this article first appeared in Horticulture magazine, vol. 98, no. 8 (November/December 2001).
Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ is a compact flowering evergreen shrub which produces red fruits and belongs to the Rutaceae family.
This shrubby species gets its name from its place of origination i.e., Japan.
The plant is also natively found in China and Southeast Asia.
Skimmia is characterized by its compact shrub-like foliage dense branches with simple aromatic leaves.
The dark-green foliage of this plant looks even prettier when white flowers or yellowish flowers grow during its bloom time.
The shrubs are widely cultivated as ornamental plants and used in parks and woodland gardens alongside other flowering plants.
There’s a similar variation called Skimmia reevesiana with ivory-white berries, slow growing growth habit, self-fertile flower buds, likes part shade, and produces dull red berries.
You may also hear this plant by its common name Japanese skimmia.
Skimmia Japonica Care
Size & Growth
Skimmia japonica is a compact dome-shaped shrub-like plant.
It’s a variable species with simple leaves, dense branches, and grows up to 22′ feet tall.
When cultivated for ornamental purposes, the plant typically grows up to 5′ feet.
This evergreen plant has alternate medium green to dark green leaves crowded at the end of a stem.
Each leaf can grow up to 2.5″ – 5″ inches in length.
The leaves have a slight aroma, leathery texture and are obovate to elliptical.
Skimmia has a slow growth rate and has a spread anywhere between 4′ – 5′ feet in diameter.
Female plants may have an even wider spread.
Flowering and Fragrance
Skimmia japonica has distinct inflorescences.
During spring, the plant sprouts large clusters of showy star-shaped fragrant flowers.
The flowers appear on the tips of the branches in creamy white, yellow or slightly tinged with pink.
It’s further made beautiful with the appearance of shiny bright red berries.
Male flowers are fragrant and slightly larger.
Female flowers bear attractive red berries.
Berries ripen in the fall and persist through the cold winter months.
The flowers bloom in rounded panicles 2″ – 3″ inches long at the branch tips in mid-spring.
When set against the background of snow, these appear very festive with the red berries stark against the green foliage.
The berries are poisonous.
If ingested in large quantities, the berries can cause stomach issues and other severe problems.
In very rare cases, the berries have led to cardiac arrest and other severe implications.
So make sure female plants are not in reach of children.
Light & Temperature
Skimmia is relatively easy to grow in moderate temperatures.
They grow in hardiness zones 7 to 8. (USDA Zone).
Performs well in both partial shade to full shade locations.
In moderate climates, the plant can tolerate full sun.
However, you need to ensure the soil is kept damp, but the foliage can still be scorched.
Watering and Feeding
Skimmia has average watering needs.
It does well in moist soil, so make sure to water it regularly while avoiding drowning the roots in too much water.
Overwatering can cause root rot and be harmful to the plant’s health.
Feeding depends on the health of the foliage.
If the leaves on the plant are green, lush, and healthy, delay fertilization.
However, if you notice the leaves fading in color and stunted growth, feeding is required.
Regardless, the best time to feed the plant is during late winter or early spring.
Soil & Transplanting
Japanese skimmia prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH of 5.6 to 6.0.
Moderately fertile soil, rich in humus, and well-drained works extremely well.
When transplanting the shrub to its permanent location choose somewhere not exposed to the full sun.
Skimmia have male and female plants. If you want the female shrub to produce berries, plant a male Skimmia nearby.
Grooming and Maintenance
One of the beautiful benefits of Skimmia is it has a very neat growing habit.
It grows in a dome shape and rarely requires pruning.
Prune and trim the shrub during the winter months when the plant is dormant.
During the holidays bring a few sprigs of the plant indoors as decorations.
How to Propagate Japanese skimmia
Skimmia japonica is propagated through semi-hardwood cuttings.
- Cut 12″ – 24″ inches of 1-to-2-year-old healthy growth right at the union.
- Bundle the cutting with twine, dip in rootone rooting hormone and sow it in the sand.
- Place them in a sheltered place during the winter season, and it may root by spring.
However, it is not uncommon for it to take longer to root.
Skimmia Pest or Disease Problems
Skimmia is mostly disease and pest-free.
However, keep an eye out for spider mites, horse chestnut scale, and wine weevil.
As for diseases, it may be affected by Phytophthora.
Suggested Uses for Skimmia
Mostly, Skimmia japonica is used as ornamental plants and planted in flower borders and beds.
Since they are low maintenance, they’re also commonly used in public parks and courtyards.
In China and Japan, it’s used by hobbyists for bonsai.
These plants make great companion plants:
- Azalea plants (Azalea)
- Camellia (Camellia)
- Fatsia japonica (Fatsia)
- Rhododendron (Rhododendron)
- Hydrangea (Hydrangea)