A reliable, compact, slow growing shrub. Grown for its glossy evergreen foliage, clusters of white spring flowers and much loved red berries, which usually persist all winter.
Family: Rutaceae (citrus
Botanical Name: Skimmia
Common Name: Skimmia
Foliage: Evergreen, simple, light or dark green glossy leaves.
Flowers: Panicles of purple-red flower buds develop in winter, which open to clusters of white or pale pink flowers in early spring. Often scented.
Flowering Period: March to April
Soil: Moist but well-drained soil (sand or loam).
Conditions: Best in partial shade. Can be grown in any aspect (north, east, south or west), in a sheltered location.
Habit: Bushy, slow growing.
Type: Low growing shrub.
Origin: China, Japan.
Hardiness: Fully hardy throughout most of the UK (down to -15 deg C).
Skimmia will brighten up any dull or dark corner of the garden in winter. Plant in a well drained loam or peaty soil. Prefers neutral or acidic soils but will tollerate alkaline conditions if plenty of humus is added (except for S. fortunei, which dislikes chalky soils).
Good for town and seaside gardens. Will tolerate of dry conditions, cold gardens and coastal exposure.
Ideal in a shady or partially sunny border. Great in a decorative container or as a filler plant for smaller gardens. In larger gardens they can be plant in groups for greater impact. Ideal as front of the border shrub.
Common varieties require both male and female forms together to produce berries. Unless you choose a bisexual variety such as S. fortunei.
Add a top dressing of ericaceous compost in spring. Feed young or heavily pruned shrubs annually in the spring with a balanced fertiliser. Water well until established.
Prune only when the plants become straggly. Remove any dead or damaged wood. Skimmia can be cut back hard in spring, if they become to large and need regeneration.
Susceptible to attack by horse chestnut scale and vine weevil. Can be affected by Phytophthora.
Sow seeds from ripe berries in a cold frame during September. Hybrids can be propagated by layering in summer. Alternatively take 3in (7.5cm) long semi-ripe cuttings of lateral shoots and strike in pots of sandy soil in a cold frame.
The plain species "S. japonica" can be dull and is often over-planted in parks and council shrubberies. For more impact plant one of the better flowering forms, such as 'Foremanii' or 'Rubella'.
Most vareties provide a neat compact evergreen bush. Average height 3 ft (1 m).
S. japonica (japan) is the common species. Creamy white, scented flowers appear in clusters in spring followed by bright red berries. Mid-green evergreen, leathery leaves. Height from 3-5ft. Spread 5-6ft (1.5-1.8m).
S. 'Fragrans' (male) is the most scented form. Very free-flowering.
S. 'Rubella' (male) has deep red buds that open to pale pink flowers.
S. 'Foremanii' (bisexual) is renowned
for its large bunches of bright scarlet berries. Thick,
oval, glossy, mid-green evergreen leaves. Creamy white,
scented flowers appear in clusters in March and April.
S. fortunei (syn. S. reevesiana) is bisexual but not so hardy.