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Schima - Growing Guide
At Caerhays and Burncoose we grow three supposedly different evergreen species of schima from China:
S. argentea, S. khasiana, and S. wallichii
Botanists now argue that all three species of this superb autumn flowering tree are, in fact, all forms of S. argentea. This is somewhat hard to reconcile with the three very different plants with different leaf forms which we grow.
It is said that S. argentea, with the white downy undersides to its mature leaves, is hardier than other forms or species. In 1963 our largest plant of S. khasiana was cut to the ground in that severe winter but it has since regrown to at least 30ft in height with a spread of 15ft. S. argentea was relatively untouched so this statement may well be true.
Schima grow as upright trees often with more than one leading stem. They are perfectly happy with us in sun or in nearly full shade. Flowering occurs in juvenile plants in pots in the nursery but is then less evident until the plants achieve 8 or 10ft in height.
There is however nothing in the woodland garden to match the floriferousness or scent of the schimas in full flower in late September or October. The bulbous flower heads open out to cup-shaped white flowers which are up to 3in across.
S. khasiana was introduced to Caerhays by Forrest from his 1924 expedition where he collected it in the Shweli-Salween divide at 8,000ft. One would not therefore expect it to be especially tender! Well worth a try anyway.