WSU Clark County Extension

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Japanese Skimmia

Scientific name: Skimmia japonica

Type:Evergreen shrubs
Plant Requirements
Zone:6 to 7
Sun:Partial shade to full shade
Plant Characteristics
Height:4 ft
Width:4 ft
Bloom:Spring flowers
Bloom Time:April to May
Bloom Color:White
Additional Characteristics



Wildlife value

Description Best known for its ability to thrive in the shade and still produce bright red berries and fragrant flowers, Japanese skimmia should be highly considered for any Northwest gardener who has acidic soil.

As a native of Japan, skimmia is a slow growing evergreen shrub that grows 3’-4’ and as wide in a dense rounded mound. It produces medium to dark green leaves, arranged alternately on stiff stems. The leaves are aromatic, having a sweet fragrance when cut or bruised.

In the spring months of April and May skimmia begins to set forth yellow-white, 4-part flowers, which latter give rise to red berries. As plants are male and female, the red fruit will only occur on the female plants when a male pollinator is nearby. One male plant is needed for every six female plants.

Skimmia requires partial shade to full shade in order to maintain its healthy green fresh appearance. Too much sun will bleach out the foliage and stunt the plant. The best growth will occur where the plant receives morning sun followed by mid-day dappled light. As for site selection, only plant skimmia on mosit, acidic soils that have been heavily amended with compost or other types of organic matter prior to planting.

Japanese skimmia is often grouped together and shaped into a low growing hedge, as would be the case for boxwood, or English yew. Avoid planting it too close to a home’s concrete foundation, as the higher soil pH near these sites can harm the plants growth.

All parts of the skimmia plant are considered poisonous. However it is only toxic if large quantities of the plant are ingested.

Spider mites can be problem when skimmia is grown in a hot dry sunny location. Citrus red mite has been found to be the principal mite species.
For assistance, contact Dr. Charles Brun (, (360) 397-6060 5701
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