Skimmia Growing Guide

Skimmia japonica


Crop Rotation Group



Moist, well-drained soil enriched with plenty of compost or other organic matter, with a neutral to slightly acidic pH.


Part shade.

Frost tolerant

Cold tolerance is limited, with most cultivars hardy to about 0°F (-18°C).


Topdress the root zone with a balanced organic fertilizer in spring, and keep plants mulched year-round to prevent weeds and insulate roots.


Single Plants: 3' 11" (1.20m) each way (minimum)
Rows: 3' 11" (1.20m) with 3' 11" (1.20m) row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Set out purchased plants from spring through early summer. Water regularly, and cover the root zone with an organic mulch to keep the soil moist at all times. Space skimmias 4 feet (1.2 m) apart when planting them as a hedge. Allow more space for single specimens of male skimmias, which can grow to 6 feet (2 m) tall and wide. In containers plant one dwarf female plant per 14-inch (35 cm) pot. Skimmia is often used as an upright accent plant in mixed containers.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalized calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


Native to Japan, skimmias are among the few evergreen shrubs that adapt well to shade. Skimmia plants are either male or female. The males grow into larger plants that produce bigger, more fragrant flower clusters compared to smaller females. The popular ‘Rubella’ cultivar is a compact male. Only female plants produce ornamental (poisonous) red berries, which often persist though winter. For good berry production in a skimmia hedge, allow one male plant per six female plants for good pollination and fruit set.


Skimmia makes a fantastic cut flower in spring or in late winter, when the new buds show atop green foliage. Berry-bearing twigs also work well in cut flower arrangements. Skimmia needs only light pruning to remove dead or damaged wood, or to control the size of old plants. In cold winter climates, plants are sometimes wrapped with burlap to prevent bronzing or loss of buds due to low temperatures.


Skimmia’s aromatic leaves repel most pests, but spider mites can be a problem in hot summers. Plants that get too much sun can show scorching of the leaves.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

< Back to All Plants

Pests which Affect Skimmia