Saturday, June 19, 2010


Even if you never heard of it before, these are all season ornamental plants that are hard not to like.
The Skimmias are a genus within the Rutaceae family of 4 species of mostly slow growing, evergreen shrubs with deep glossy green foliage, native to eastern Asia and the Himalayas.
They are easy to grow in sun or partial shade in cool climates though may have problems with leaf scorch where sun is excessively hot. They prefer moist, light, fertile, acidic to neutral, well drained soils and also tolerant shade, urban conditions and seashore conditions. Skimmias prefer a site protected from excessive wind as well as a deep acidic organic mulch such as pine needles.
Naturally dense, they can be pruned smaller if needed and make a great natural hedge.
They are typically reproduced from semi-ripe cuttings during summer which will guarantee the sex of the plant which is important since male and female plants are required to produce berries on some cultivars, esp. of S. japonica. Seed is also an option, upon ripening remove the pulp then sow immediately. Insect problems are rare, however spider mites can sometimes damage the foliage...either use a systemic insecticide if they occur or frequently spray the foliage with water to knock them off the plant.

Skimmia arborescens
The largest of the Skimmias, native to eastern Asia and the Himalayas. It can become a tree up to 50 feet and forms no suckers. Its foliage is elliptic up to 9 inches in length. The fruits are black. Hardy north to zone 7, I have never heard of this Skimmia being in cultivation in North America but would certainly hope to attempt to grow it in the future.

Skimmia x confusa
A hybrid between Skimmia anquetilia & S. japonica that forms a mound to 4 x 4 feet or rarely more. The largest on record is 10 x 5 feet.
The aromatic leaves are pointed and up to 6 x 1 inches.
The creamy white flowers are borne in large, very showy clusters up to 6 inches across.
Hardy zones 7 to 10 in sun or shade.

Skimmia japonica ( Japanese Skimmia )
Typically a dense, bushy, medium-sized, evergreen shrub, however on ideal sites after many decades it can grow much larger with the largest on record being 20 x 20 feet. In 10 years it is typically 3 x 4 feet though up to 6.6 x 6.6 feet has been recorded. It is native to Japan.
The leathery, elliptical leaves, up to 5 x 2 inches, are glossy deep green.
The fragrant, white flowers, up to 0.2 inches long, are produced in terminal panicles, up to 3.2 inches in length, during mid to late spring.
They are followed by very attractive, scarlet, rounded red fruits that persist through the winter.
Hardy zones 6 to 10 with reports of Skimmia surviving zones 4 and 5 in southern Finland winters under snow cover. Thrives in deep shade under Hickories.

* photos taken on March 17 2010 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on May 1 2010 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on May 8 2010 @ McCrillis Gardens, Bethesda, MD

* photo taken on July 17 2010 @ Morris Arboretum, Philly, PA

* photo taken on May 7 2012 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Mar 7 2013 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD

* photos taken on June 23 2016 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on Nov 19 2016 @ London Town Gardens, Edgewater, MD

* photo taken on June 15 2017 in Columbia, MD

'Cecilia Brown'
Bright glossy green foliage. Red flowers are in large clusters.

Vigorous. The flowers and the scarlet red fruits are in large clusters.

Similar except for creamy-white flowers that are followed by berries that are white.

large leaves and flowers

Profuse flowers and large, abundant fruits

A male clone. The foliage is red margined. The flowers are white ( red in bud ).

* photos taken on Mar 7 2013 @ Brookside Gardens, Wheaton, MD
* photo taken on Mar 1 2017 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Feb 2 2018 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Mar 1 2018 in Columbia, MD

Skimmia laureola
A large spreading shrub native to western China and the Himalayas. In ideal conditions with great age, it can become a tree. The largest on record is 46 x 10 feet. The leaves are very dark green, reaching up to 6 or rarely 10 x 2.5 inches.
The foliage is often clustered at the stem tips.
The very showy, fragrant flowers are creamy white and in large terminal panicles up to 4 inches in length. Plants are sometimes single sex or often have both male and female flowers on one plant. The berries are black.
Hardy zones 7 to 10

Skimmia reevesiana ( Reeves Skimmia )
Similar to Skimmia japonica but native to China, reaching an average mature size of 6.5 x 6.5 feet. Typically slow growing; some records include: fastest recorded growth rate - 2 feet; 3 years - 2 x 2 feet; 10 years - 3 x 4 feet; largest on record - 23 feet ( as small tree )
The aromatic, oval leaves, up to 4 x 1 inches, are dull deep green.
The fragrant flowers are bisexual and creamy-white, in panicles to 3.2 inches in length. All plants have oval, deep red fruits that persist through winter. The Reeves Skimmia does not need a pollinater to have berries.
Hardy zones 6a to 9 in sun or shade, it does not enjoy limey soils.

* photo taken on Sep 21 2013 in Harford Co., MD

* photo taken on July 13 2014 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken by Milan Havlis ( )

* photos taken on Dec 9 2015 in Ellicott City, MD

* photo taken on Jan 11 2016 in Columbia, MD

* photo taken on Apr 12 2017 in Columbia, MD

* photos taken on Dec 28 2018 in Columbia, MD

* historic archive photo

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