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Skimmias for winter colour

  20/11/2014 at 14:50 pm

The quiet and distinguished Skimmia is a superb plant for the winter garden. They have good sized smooth green leaves, a neat, generally domed shape, and flowers in spring. In some varieties there are both male and female forms, both have flowers but only the females have fruit. There are hermaphrodite (combined male and female) forms now available, so it is possible to have flowers and fruit from just the one plant.


Skimmia have an exceptionally long season of interest, with their developing flowerbuds and fruit an attractive feature from autumn, and flowers in spring. Many Skimmia are compact, some are very small. Their quiet dome shapes are an attractive solid foil for plants that strut their stuff in summer and autumn. They can be grown in containers and some varieties are well suited to be used as ground cover in shaded areas. A few are particularly ornamental, and there is now a variety with discreetly variegated foliage.

Skimmia like dappled or light shade and moist soil. They have a slight preference for acidic (ericaceous) or neutral soil, though if well cared for, most of them should still be reasonably happy in good, moist alkaline soil.

Recommended varieties:

Skimmia japonica ‘Rubella’ is a male variety that has cinnamon coloured buds that are a feature for months from autumn. These colours combine well with many young Viburnum tinus forms. Try it with Viburnum tinus ‘Spirit’ that has mahogany flowering stems. These Skimmia are often sold as very small plants as part of the Christmas trade. Plant them in the garden and you can enjoy them for years.

Skimmia japonica 'Obsession'is new species which combines red berries in autumn, with white flowerheads.

Skimmia japonica 'Magic Marlot'is a compact, evergreen shrub with green leaves edged in cream. It has decorative, domed clusters of cream flower buds in winter that gradually change to red, opening in spring to white fragrant flowers.

By Arboretum