Skimmias are evergreen shrubs. They originate from the Himalayas and spread right across south-east Asia, China and Japan. The leaves are dark green and ovate in appearance.
The fragrant clusters of flowers range from white to creamy yellow. Skimmias are one of the early flowering shrubs, coming into bloom as early as February. They are a small genus, there are four main groups in total, but with many sub-species. The height ranges from seven metres (sub-species Reevesiana) down to a mere 75 centimetres (sub-species Reevesiana Rogersii).
Skimmias like acid soil, which is soil rich in humus. Ericacious compost is a good substitute if the soil is neutral of alkaline. Also, soil acidifiers can be watered in to keep the soil acidic. If your skimmia is looking tired and the leaves are light green or yellow, then it is in need of feeding. You can feed it with sequested iron, a plant food that is specially designed for acid-loving plants.
Skimmias like to grow in dappled shade, although they will tolerate full light from the sun. They are considered hardy and will survive well in colder climates.
Skimmias come in male and female varieties, with the exception of two hermaphrodite sub-species Reevesiana and Reevesiana Robert Fortune. To make a female bear fruit, it must be pollinated by the male.
The most popular species of skimmia is Skimmia Japonica Rubella. It is a male plant, which bears deep red flowerbuds throughout the winter. In the spring they open up into creamy-white fragrant flowers. Skimmia Reevesiana Rogersii is a popular female variety along with Skimmia x confusa 'Kew Green'.
Skimmias require little or no pruning, as they are slow-growing and compact. However, damaged and stray branches can be pruned in mid-spring.
Skimmias come in nine different types of species. They are:
- Skimmia Anquetilia - male or female.
- Skimmia x confusa 'Kew Green' - female.
- Skimmia Japonica - male or female.
- Skimmia 'Bronze Knight' - male.
- Skimmia 'Cecilia Brown' - female.
- Skimmia Reevesiana - hermaphrodite.
- Skimmia Reevesiana 'Robert Fortune' - hermaphrodite.
- Skimmia Reevesiana 'Rogersii' - female.
- Skimmia Japonica 'Rubella' - male.