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Skimmia japonica
  • RHS Plants for pollinators

Japanese skimmia

S. japonica is a variable, evergreen, densely-branched, dome-shaped shrub, low and creeping or erect, from 0.5m to 7m in height (but typically up to 1.5m in cultivation), with slightly-aromatic, dark green, leathery, obovate to elliptic leaves. White flowers in spring, sometimes flushed pink or red on the outside, appear in panicles at the ends of branches; male flowerheads are large and conspicuous, up to 8cm long, and very sweetly-scented, while the smaller fragrant female flowerheads are followed, if pollinated, by brilliantly bright red fruits, 8mm across, which usually last until the next flowers appear the following spring

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Size
Ultimate height
1.5–2.5 metres
Time to ultimate height
5–10 years
Ultimate spread
1–1.5 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring White Green
Summer Green Red
Autumn Green Red
Winter Green Red
Position
  • Full shade
  • Partial shade
Aspect

South–facing or North–facing or West–facing or East–facing

Exposure
Sheltered
Hardiness
H5
Botanical details
Family
Rutaceae
Native to the UK
No
Foliage
Evergreen
Habit
Bushy
Potentially harmful
Fruit are ornamental, not to be eaten. Wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling
Genus

Skimmia are compact evergreen shrubs with simple, aromatic leaves and terminal panicles of small white or yellowish flowers followed, on fertilised female plants, by shiny red berries; most have male and female flowers on separate plants

Name status

Correct

Plant range
China, Japan

How to grow

Cultivation

Grow in humus-rich, light, rich, moist but well-drained soil in partial or full shade; will grow best in neutral or acidic soils, but will also thrive in humus-rich alkaline soils; plant both male and female plants to get fruits

Propagation

Propagate by seed, sown in a cold frame in autumn, or sown outside in spring; by softwood cuttings of new growth in early summer and given bottom heat; by semi-ripe cuttings in a cold frame in late summer; or by layering

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Cottage and informal garden
  • City and courtyard gardens
  • Low Maintenance
  • Flower borders and beds
  • Hedging and screens
Pruning

Pruning group 1 (little or no pruning of trees and shrubs) or pruning group 8 (early-flowering evergreen shrubs)

Pests

May be susceptible to scale insects, and to vine weevil when grown in containers

Diseases

May be susceptible to Phytophthora and honey fungus

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