Skimmia japonica (Japanese Skimmia) is an evergreen shrub that has colorful red berries throughout winter. Get facts and information on growing and caring for Skimmia japonica plants and varieties.
Skimmia Japonica Facts and Info
Skimmia japonica, also known as Japanese skimmia, grows in Zones 7-8, but can grow in Zone 6 and 9 under special conditions. Skimmia has a mounded form, a medium texture, and a slow growth rate. It prefers shade to part shade rather than any sunny location.
Japanese skimmia is one of the most attractive and reliable of all early spring flowering shrubs. The leaves are glossy dark green above and yellow green below and aromatic when bruised. Japanese skimmia is an understory shrub of many woodlands and woodland gardens.
It will flower before the tree canopy closes over in early spring. Flowers can smother a bush with sweetly scented heads of off-white blossoms. Flowers on male plants are larger and more fragrant than on female plants.
Fruits are usually red but sometimes white. Both male and female plants are needed to get fruits. One male plant per six female plants will give good fruit set.
Skimmia japonica prefers moist, acid soil high in organic matter. It grows in part shade to shade making Skimmia japonica an excellent shade shrub. Full sun will actually bleach the foliage. If grown in Zone 6, the plants will need winter protection.
BE AWARE: The entire plant is poisonous.
Skimmia japonica Care
Water plants during dry periods. Use acid mulch such as pine needles or shredded pine bark to help maintain even moisture. Feed each spring with acid plant food such as Miracle-Gro Shake ’n Feed Azalea, Camellia, Rhododendron. Prune right after flowering occurs.
Propagation: Sow seeds as soon as they are ripe. Remove pulp before sowing. Take cuttings from new growth in summer to fall. Layering is another possibility.
Pests and Diseases: Spider mites can disfigure foliage and give plants a sunburned look. A daily spray with the garden hose will help dislodge minor infestations. Severely affected plants may require insecticidal soap or a miticide.
Related Species of Skimmia Japonica
‘Rubella’ is a male cultivar with large, red-budded flower heads that open to powerfully scented flowers.
Skimmia japonica reevesiana is similar, but lower growing, self-fertile, with dull crimson fruit.