Japanese Skimmias for shade and Winter Colour
Common Name: Skimmia
Botanical Name: Skimmia japonica
Form: round and spreading
Plant Type: broadleaf evergreen shrub
Mature Size: 2 to 4 ft tall and 3 to 5 foot wide
Origin: SE Asia, Japan, China
Hardiness Zone: 7
Foliage: Dark green above and paler yellowish green on reverse, leathery, 6 to 13 cm long, simple, alternate, elliptic, aromatic when bruised. Male and female plants (dioecious), red berries produced on female plants. Males larger and more fragrant.
Stems: smooth, brown
Flowers: clusters of small, fragrant, white coloured flowers held in panicles in February to April
Fruit: red, sometimes white berries (drupe) in late fall and winter, borne on female plants, need 1 male for every 6 females to produce berries, (which are poisonous)
Exposure: part shade to shade, too much light bleaches foliages
Soil: moist, acid, soils with plenty of organic matter, organic mulch
Uses: foundation plantings, massing, mixed border, winter garden, fragrant garden, hedge row, small garden, woodland margin
Propagation: softwood cuttings mid spring, layering
Pruning: To keep plant compact, prune after flowering by 1/3rd.
Problems: The entire plant is poisonous, especially the berries. Suffers from spider mite if conditions are too dry.
Cultivars: Reeves skimmia, Skimmia reevesiana, is shorter with dull red fruit on self-fertile plants, as male and female flowers are on the same plant.
Comments: Resistant to diseases and insects, resistant to deer and rabbits (unless they are really hungry). Skimmia a well-behaved plants that are perfect for around the foundation of the house and where there is shade. No matter what time of year it is, skimmias always look good.