Skimmia

Discussion in 'Plants: Identification' started by billstephen, Jan 30, 2003.

  1. billstephen

    billstephen Member

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    I have in my neighbourhood a most vibrant Skimmia hedge. It flowers creamy white, and is pruned rigoroulsy at 2 metres. It wants to get much larger, it is 15 years old. It seems to me to be the perfect hedge. A vibrant green all winter, seasonal interest, compact and a thorough screen. It stays upright, and shows only minor short-termed damage after pruning.

    I can't find reference to the cultivar, skimmia apparently don't regularly grow that large. Anybody have an idea of what it might be ?
     
  2. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    I don't have the definitive answer to your question, but perhaps these references can help.

    Gerd Krussman in his Manual of Cultivated Broad-Leaved Trees and Shrubs lists two Skimmia that exceed 2m. The first is Skimmia laureola, which is listed as growing from 0.9 to 2.5m. Secondly, he mentions Skimmia melanocarpa which can grow to 5m. The latter is easy to distinguish as the fruit is purple-black. He also lists S. japonica as only reaching 1.5m.

    Michael Dirr in his Manual of Woody Landscape Plants states that he has seen plants of Skimmia japonica at six feet and larger. Interestingly, he also lists Skimmia laureola as only reaching three feet (1m).

    S. japonica in Bean (Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles) is "usually three or four feet high, sometimes much taller". Bean doubly confirms that S. laureola is typically 1m or less. S. melanocarpa, here named S. multinervia is listed as reaching 50 ft!

    Lastly, The Hillier Manual of Trees and Shrubs lists one large cultivar - 'Isabella', Skimmia x confusa (Skimmia anquetila x Skimmia japonica) selection. The plant reaches 3m.

    So, other than the possibility it is 'Isabella', most likely it is a selection of Skimmia japonica that exceeds the norm in height. Other than 'Isabella', all the cultivars and selections I found that related to height were dwarf.

    Here is a link to Leicester University Botanic Garden, holder of a UK National Plant Collection of Skimmia. They may be of some help - if you do find out, please post your findings.

    Regards,
    Daniel
     
  3. Douglas Justice

    Douglas Justice Active Member UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator VCBF Cherry Scout Maple Society 10 Years

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    Skimmia japonica easily reaches 2m under shade in the Vancouver area. There is a moderately sized planting in shade near the Campbell Building at UBC Botanical Garden, where a number of clones grow together (attractively). Away from the path, at least two of the clones are >2m. These were planted about 25 years ago. In my experience, the males are the larger of the species.

    Skimmia can make a great hedge for a while, but tends to drop lower leaves under drought stress. Under saturated conditions, plants exhibit branch blight. There is a natural tendency for the plant to spread horizontally, so shearing, while effective if expertly performed, often exposes a bit too much leg. Pruning is better accomplished with sharp secateurs, so that leaves are not unduly shredded (as they invariably are. with inferior tools)

    Two-spotted mite is a significant pest under conditions of heat, drought or poor air circulation, and sunburn (bronzing) can be a problem. Marginal necrosis is also a common problem in prepared soil media , but that usually settles down when soil microbial health improves. In areas where winters are colder than Zone 8 hardiness is also an issue (particularly with the larger leafed species and cultivars). Reminder: when El Nino fails (and it will), your skimmia may be a victim.

    If one wanted to see berries, a female hedge would need a robust male in close proximity to supply sufficient pollen, however, this is no guarantee of fruit set, as skimmia are renowned for their early flowers (there are seldom adequate pollinators available at this time of year). The hermaphrodite subsp. reevesiana is too squat for hedging and seldom sets a good berry crop in this climate. It is also variously confused in the trade with the dumpy, congested cultivar Skimmia japonica 'Rogersii'. The "dwarf" cultivars are usually the worst for pest damage. A male hedge, sensibly pruned (i.e., before July) would provide its exquisite fragrance in late February or March.
     
  4. Hi I live in Revelstoke BC and was thinking of planting a Skimmia. Is it possible for one to grow in my area. If so which type.
    Hope you can help.
    Janice Sanseverino
     
  5. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Paragon of Plants UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

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    The consensus seems to be that Skimmia reevesiana is the hardiest, but that's where consensus seems to end. I've read one reference suggesting that it would be borderline hardy in Revelstoke's zone, to others (many others) that would suggest it would be impossible. The interesting thing is that there are question marks accompanying some of those references, so it seems as if the hardiness of Skimmia hasn't been definitively tested yet.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    If Revelstoke is in the intermountain region there will be other issues besides winter cold for a southeast Asian monsoon climate plant like skimmia. I think a good indication of whether one is in a neighborhood that can support cultivation of forest region plants is if the district has conifers and huckleberries growing wild. The intermountain region tends to consist of a combination of arid, alkaline lowlands interrupted by moister, forested uplands with acidic soil. If a foreign plant is hardy enough and you are in a forested portion it may be quite tractable, otherwise not.
     

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