(Taster: Skimmia: Useful, tough-as-old-boots evergreen - Species: Skimmia)
Skimmia and its origins
Skimmia are small, neat, well-shaped shrubs grown for their scarlet berries in autumn, spring flower clusters and handsome evergreen foliage. This plant is a native of the warm temperate regions of Asia.
Skimmia in flower and fruit
Skimmias reach just 60 to 90cm high so make ideal container plants and are good for the front of a border. The main attraction are the berries that appear in autumn and last through winter. However, this evergreen also produces flowers, making the Skimmia a real workhorse that always looks good, right through the year.
Most cultivars are of the Skimmia japonica species and are frost hardy. Both male and female plants are needed for fruits to be produced, but if you only have room for one plant, make it S reevesiana Robert Fortune, which is self-fertile. Skimmia Japonica Rubella has generous, conical pink flower clusters through winter and Nymans, a female plant, has abundant large berries.
How to plant Skimmia
Skimmias thrive in slightly acidic soil that is fertile, so add organic matter if needed. They will not tolerate sitting in waterlogged soil, so make sure the planting site is well-drained. Pollution, salt spray and full shade will not affect the growth of a Skimmia but the plant does prefer part shade: full sun may cause the leaves to turn yellow.
The plant rarely needs pruning as it stays in good shape, but the time to remove any damaged branches is in spring.
Propagation of Skimmia
Place semi-ripe (semi-hardwood) cuttings with a 'heel' and root in a propagator in early autumn.
Did you know?All parts of the plant have a strong scent when crushed in the hand. Skimmia Fragrans has the most aromatic flowers.