Skimmia japonica (Japanese Skimmia) is a genus of four species of slow growing evergreen shrubs and small trees, grown as garden plants for their foliage, flowers and showy red fruits. Their sizes when mature can reach 60 cm to 1.5 m high and 1-2 m wide. It makes an excellent choice near an entryway or garden path or as a foundation planting or for growing in containers placed on your patio. One of the best choice for small gardens.
The leaves are glossy green, clustered at the ends of the shoots, oblong to elliptic, 6-21 cm long and 2-5 cm broad, with a smooth margin and are aromatic when bruised.
Buds are red, followed by flowers grown in dense panicle clusters, creamy white with mild fragrance, each flower is small, 6-15 mm diameter, with 4-7 petals. The flowers appear in mid to late spring.
The fruits are bright red to black, 6-12 mm diameter, a fleshy drupe containing a single seed. They are forming in mid autumn on female plants and persist on the shrub until spring. Since the plant is dioecious, male and female plants are necessary for producing berries on the female plant. One male plant is enough to pollinate up to six female plants. The most used male plant is the cultivar Rubella.
Skimmia Japonica Rubella is a compact evergreen cultivar with red-margined, deep green leaves and no berries. Dark red flower buds are produced in autumn and adorn the shrub throughout the winter until they open in spring in cream-colored, flagrant flowers.
Grow them in a place with light to medium shade, in moist, well-drained, humus-rich, acidic soils, enriched with organic matter. Full sun may bleach out the leaves. They are tolerant of both drought and air pollution. Caring for Skimmia is quite easy and once it's established it will need little watering and some fertilization. Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system and feed the plant with a general purpose fertilizer before new growth appear in spring. Prune the shrub after flowering only to keep the symmetry of the plant.
You can propagate Skimmia by sowing seeds after cleaning off the pulp, they will germinate in 3-4 weeks. Or you can try root cuttings in mid to late summer or in autumn. Also you can try semi or hardwood cuttings: cuttings of half-ripe wood, taken in mid to late summer placed in a cold frame and cuttings of nearly mature side shoots, 7-10 cm long with a heel taken in early autumn placed in a cold frame. Cuttings are rooting slow so they should be left for 18 months before moving to their permanent positions in the garden. Layering in autumn may also work but this also takes 18 months until rooting.