Plant Profile | Skimmia

Skimmias are versatile, low-maintenance, evergreen shrubs suitable for almost any garden. They are excellent for autumn – winter planting. Originally native to Japan, China and Southeast Asia, the rounded shrubs have glossy leathery leaves with fragrant flowers in early spring that can be cream or white. Female plants produce small round red or white berries in the autumn, while male varieties produce showy flower buds - be aware you will need to have both a male as well as a female variety, though, for the necessary pollination that allows the female to produce its berries.

Skimmias are hard-working structural shrubs that tolerate frost and drought conditions and are loved by bees and butterflies. One important note of caution, though – the berries are toxic if eaten.


Skimmia Varieties


Skimmia japonica ‘White Globe’

S. 'White Globe' is a compact male Skimmia variety with glossy dark green leaves. It produces fragrant white flowers that open from greenish buds in spring. Position in mixed borders for all year round interest or as part of spring and woodland planting schemes, or even in a container.

Flowering time: March to April. Flower buds or berries (depending on whether a male or female cultivar) appear in autumn and stay through winter.

Sun Requirements: Partial to full shade

Soil: Most soils types. For chalk soils, it is recommended to add extra feed or a top-dressing of well-rotted manure.

Hardiness: Hardy in most parts of the UK, down to -15°C

Size: Grows to 1m x 1.2m


Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’

This male form is hard to beat for year-round perfection. Produces panicles of red buds throughout autumn & winter and fragrant white flowers in the spring RHS AGM.

Flowering time: March to April. Flower buds or berries (depending on whether a male or female cultivar) appear in autumn and stay through winter.

Sun Requirements: Partial to full shade

Soil: Most soils types. For chalk soils, it is recommended to add extra feed or a top-dressing of well-rotted manure.

Hardiness: Hardy in most parts of the UK, down to -15°C

Size: Grows to 1.5m x 1.5m


Skimmia japonica ‘Fragrant Cloud’

This male skimmia variety has aromatic, dark green, obovate leaves. In spring, it produces dense clusters of small, fragrant white flowers. This is a good plant for mixed borders for all year round interest, as part of spring and woodland gardens and placed in a container.

Flowering time: March to April. Flower buds or berries (depending on whether a male or female cultivar) appear in autumn and stay through winter.

Sun Requirements: Partial to full shade

Soil: Most soils types. For chalk soils, it is recommended to add extra feed or a top-dressing of well-rotted manure.

Hardiness: Hardy in most parts of the UK, down to -15°C

Size: Grows to 1m x 1m


Skimmia japonica ‘Red Riding Hood’

S. 'Red Riding Hood is a female variety with mid-green glossy leaves. The panicles of pink buds opening to fragrant, star-shaped, white flowers in spring followed by bright red fruit. Position in mixed borders for all year round interest or as part of spring and woodland planting schemes, or in a container.

Flowering time: March to April. Flower buds or berries (depending on whether a male or female cultivar) appear in autumn and stay through winter.

Sun Requirements: Partial to full shade

Soil: Most soils types. For chalk soils, it is recommended to add extra feed or a top-dressing of well-rotted manure.

Hardiness: Hardy in most parts of the UK, down to -15°C

Size: Grows to 1m x 1m


Skimmia japonica ‘Godries Dwarf’

This male, evergreen variety is one of the most compact Skimmia varieties. It has mid to dark green glossy leaves and creates an attractive dome-shaped mound of foliage. In spring it produces delightful dense panicles of pink blossoms. This is a great plant for mixed borders, woodland planting schemes or for growing in a container. 

Flowering time: March to April. Flower buds or berries (depending on whether a male or female cultivar) appear in autumn and stay through winter.

Sun Requirements: Partial to full shade

Soil: Most soils types. For chalk soils, it is recommended to add extra feed or a top-dressing of well-rotted manure.

Hardiness: Hardy in most parts of the UK, down to -15°C

Size: Grows to 75cm x 75cm


Skimmia Growing Guide

Skimmias are, in general, low-maintenance and disease-free plants.

Planting

Water thoroughly in the pot before planting and water well in the first year to establish. Plant in a soil mixed with an organic improver, such as Hillier Multi-Purpose Compost, and a suitable fertiliser.

Pruning

Skimmias rarely require pruning, but you can trim and shape before growth appears in spring and once berries have passed their best (on female cultivars) to keep neat and encourage more flowers.


Skimmia Planting Ideas

Create an exciting autumn/winter garden by planting together in borders with other plants of seasonal interest e.g. Cornus alba or sericea and Ericas.

Skimmias are also excellent in pots and winter containers. Placed by the front or back door around Christmas time, they bring the season to life. For a festive combination, plant together with Winter-flowering Hellebores. Another great winter combination is with Leucothoe and Ajugas.

Hillier tip: During the festive Christmas season, bring a few sprigs of skimmia indoors for use in decorations.


Skimmia Fact

The botanical Latin name for the plant, Skimmia, comes from 'Miyama shikimi’, which is the Japanese name for Skimmia.