Kimmia - Rutaceae - How to care for and grow our Skimmies

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Note 1

There Skimmia is an evergreen shrub that produces fragrant flowers and red berries that persist throughout the winter period. Very decorative.






: Angiosperms


: Eudicotyledons


: Roside








: see the paragraph on "Main species"


The genre Skimmia belonging to family of Rutaceae it includes a few species all evergreen, with shrub or arboreal habit. They are plants native to Japan, China and in particular the Himalayan woods.

For the most part the Skimmiathey are dioecious species that is to say that there are "male plants" and "female plants" ie plants that bear only female flowers and plants that bear only male flowers. Female plants produce panicle inflorescences formed by delicately perfumed starry flowers in the final part of the branches. Male flowers are generally much more fragrant than female ones.

The fruits (which are formed only if male plants are also present because the female flowers must be pollinated) are berries of variable color depending on the species and variety, generally very persistent, that is to say they remain on the Skimmia from autumn, the period in which they mature, until the following spring, when the new flowers begin to appear.


There are four species (nine according to other botanists) in the genusSkimmia among which the most common are:


There Skimmia japonica it is a shrubby plant that can reach 2 m in height with oval, alternate leaves of a leathery consistency and a shiny green color. They are particularly aromatic in fact if wrinkled they give off a characteristic scent.

It is a dioecious plant and the flowers produced by the female plants in spring are cream or pink colored, grouped in terminal panicle inflorescences. If fertilized by a male plant, they produce very persistent red or orange berries, lasting on the plant from autumn to the following spring also because they are not particularly sought after by birds.

Of this species there are numerous varieties among which we remember the Skimmia japonica 'Rubella', certainly the most widespread, dioca, with deep green leaves with white or light pink flowers; there Skimmia japonica 'Nymans'dioica which produces white flowers and bright red berries in spring; thereSkimmia japonica 'Reevesiana' is the only one of the hermaphrodite species and produces soft pads of very fragrant white flowers and bright red berries that persist all winter.

It is a particularly tolerant species to atmospheric pollution so it is suitable for growing in city gardens.


There Skimmia x confused it is a species that can reach 3 m in height, with spring flowering. The Skimmia x confused 'Kew Green' where male plants produce particularly beautiful yellow flowers, collected in panicle inflorescences on the top of the plant. Compared to other species, it is a plant that tolerates direct sunlight enough and is resistant to environmental pollution.


There Skimmia anquetilia it is a shrub with very aromatic leathery leaves of a beautiful deep green color. It blooms from mid-spring, producing small yellow-green flowers gathered in compact panicles, followed by bright red berries in the female plants.


There Skimmia it is an easy to grow plant albeit a fairly slow growth.

Choose positions sheltered from direct sunlight, partial shade or at most a position that allows the plant to receive the sun's rays only in the early morning.They are generally resistant to low temperatures and can even tolerate temperatures of -15 ° C.

Being slow growing plants the Skimmia they can also be successfully grown in pots, on a veranda.

They are all acidophilic species.


The Skimmia they are plants that require regular watering. Try not to use excessively calcareous water which is poorly tolerated. If the water in the pipeline is too calcareous then use rain water or demineralized water or the tap water previously boiled with a drop of vinegar.


They need soft substrates, well ventilated and acidic. Composted soils of peat, perlite, pine needles and moorland and above all physiologically acidic soils are suitable, as the Skimmia they are acidophilic plants and very sensitive to limestone both in the soil and in the irrigation water, to which it reacts with the yellowing and fall of the leaves.

If grown in pots, it is repotted when the roots have occupied all the space at their disposal.

Keep in mind in any case that they love fertile soils, rich in humus and that there are no water stagnations so that they are well draining.


The Skimmia they do not have high nutritional requirements, however, it is good to administer liquid fertilizers with watering water to the Skimmia once a month. Use physiologically acid fertilizers, such as urea and sulphates, to be administered throughout the spring - summer period by decreasing the doses compared to what is reported in the fertilizer package.


They are not plants that require special pruning as they naturally take on a rounded shape. In any case, if some Skimmia branches have grown too much and you want to give the plant a more harmonious shape or keep it within a certain height, prune it in the fall.

Always remember to use clean and possibly flame-disinfected tools.


The flowering period is usually the spring period but the interesting aspect of them Skimmia are the fruits (for most of the species only on female plants and only if the flowers have been pollinated by a male plant), particularly showy red wand that stand out on the green foliage and persist throughout the winter period.


The Skimmia they multiply by seed or by cutting.


Cuttings about 10 cm long are taken in summer, obtained from the lateral shoots with a part of the bearing branch. It is recommended to cut obliquely as this allows for a greater surface for rooting and avoids the accumulation of water on this surface.

Use a sharp blade to avoid fraying of the fabrics and make sure that the tool you use for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably over a flame) to avoid infecting the tissues. in a compote formed by peat and sand in equal parts by making holes with a pencil, as many as there are cuttings to be placed.

The growth of Skimmia it is very slow and must be kept for about 18 months before they can be transplanted into their final home. In any case, the cuttings have a good percentage of engraftment.


The leaves turn yellow and fall off

If the leaves turn yellow and fall off, either the soil or water you are using is calcareous.
Remedies: follow the instructions given in the paragraphs "Watering" and "Type of soil".

The leaves turn yellow and appear burnt

If the plant has burnt leaves it means that it has been exposed to direct sunlight.
Remedies: move the plant to a shaded position.

Discolored spots on the leaves that later become white mold

The presence of discolored spots covered with a layer of mold is a symptom of a white sore infestation, a fairly serious fungal disease. The disease can affect all green parts of the plant.

Remedies: if the infestation is very extensive, it is fought with sulfur-based treatments or other specific products available at specialized gardening centers.If this is scarce and limited to a few areas, it is sufficient to eliminate the particles. In any case, if the plant has a particularly dense crown, perform a thinning as a poorly ventilated environment favors the development of the fungus.

Leaves that begin to turn yellow and appear with brown edges

If the leaves show these symptoms you are most likely in the presence of an attack of red spider mite, a very annoying and harmful mite.

Remedies: increase the ambient humidity around the plant (the lack of humidity favors their proliferation) and possibly, only in the case of particularly serious infestations, use a specific insecticide. If the plant is not particularly large, you can also try cleaning the leaves to mechanically eliminate the parasite using a wet and soapy cotton ball. After that the plant was rinsed very well to get rid of all the soap.

Presence of small whitish animals on the plant

If you notice small light-colored insects, crumpled leaves and a general deterioration of the plant, you are almost certainly in the presence of aphids or as they are commonly called lice.

Remedies: treat the plant with specific pesticides readily available from a good nurseryman. These are generally systemic products, i.e. they enter the lymphatic circulation of the plant and are therefore absorbed during nutrition by insects.

Brown spots on the underside of the leaves

Brown spots on the underside of your leaves Skimmia could mean that you are in the presence of cochineal and in particular of the brown cochineal. To be sure, it is recommended that you make use of a magnifying glass and observe yourself. Compare them with the photo on the side. They are characteristics, you can't go wrong with them. Also if you try to remove them with a fingernail, they come off easily.

Remedies: remove them with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol or if the plant is in a pot it can be washed with water and neutral soap by rubbing gently with a sponge to remove parasites; after which the plant should be rinsed well to eliminate all the soap. For larger and outdoor plants, use specific pesticides available from a good nurseryman.

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