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Skimmia - Growing Guide
The key problem which gardeners face with this genus of four species and many cultivars is which of these plants are self fertile with male and female flowers on the same plant and are therefore capable of producing seeds themselves (monoecious)? Alternatively which have male and female flowers on different plants (dioecious)? Finally which are hermaphrodite, or bisexual, and have both male and female organs on the same flower?
Only when you can ‘sex’ your skimmia can you decide which plants you need to grow together to produce berries as well as flowers (none of the varieties which we offer for sale are monoecious). Without this knowledge and understanding you can easily grow plants which flower but never fruit without the right ‘partner’. The pronounced white or red berries on skimmia are one of their greatest attributes in the garden.
Skimmias are evergreen shrubs from the Himalayas and China which have attractive leaves, flowers and fruit. Most grow to 3-4ft in height and have scented flowers in the spring followed by conspicuous red or white fruits.
These plants prefer partial or full shade to avoid burning and chlorosis to their fleshy green leaves. S. ‘Kew Garden’ will, however, tolerate full sun. They will grow in fairly poor soils but prefer moist and humus rich ones for best effects.
No pruning is required as these plants usually form compact and dense shrubs.
Propagation is fairly easy from semi-ripe cuttings taken in September and given bottom heat. Seeds can be grown in the cold frame or containers if sown in the autumn. However, if you have several different cultivars of skimmia in your garden, you must expect the seedlings to be variable.
Skimmia japonica ‘Redruth’ which was raised by David Knuckey, a former partner in the nursery, has to be our nominated favourite.