Skimmia japonica 'GODRIE'S LITTLE RUBY'

Skimmia japonica
Skimmia japonica  'GODRIE'S LITTLE RUBY'
Japanese skimmia
SIZE/TYPE low or groundcovering
 small shrub
LEAVES evergreen broadleaf
LOCATION semi-shade to shade
SOIL TYPE acidic (peaty)
SOIL MOISTURE REQUIREMENTS evenly moist but well-drained
USDA zone (lowest) 5b   (down to -27°C)
FOR ZONE 5+6 Code of winter protection zone 5+6
FOR ZONE 7 Code of winter protection zone 7
BELONGS TO CATEGORIES Evergreen broadleaf
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Skimmia is a small, evergreen shrub whose natural habitat was long believed to be only in Japan but it was also found growing in China and other parts of SE Asia. It was never documented who had brought or described the first plants in Europe but there are records of a renowned Scottish botanist Robert Fortune (1812-1880) who travelled to Asia collecting plants and seeds. In China he found a different looking skimmia with hermaphrodite (self-fertile) flowers which he named skimmia fortunei. Only after his death the botanists analyzed the plant and classified it as a subspecies of s. japonica, yet honouring his discovery.

After the year 2000 there have been a number of new varieties which are still being tested for stability of their featured characteristics. The aim is to select plants distinctly different from the species. They are usually split by sex: profusely flowering male plants, and attractive fruit producing female plants. Varieties also differ from one another by habit, and lately also leaf colour, respectively its variegation. Worth mentioning are also current biochemical studies of furanocoumarins, organic compounds produced by a variety of plants including skimmia, believed to assist in fighting cancer.

I suppose that there’s never enough skimmia varieties when it comes to dwarf as well as female plants with berries. Just like Godrie’s Little Ruby. Johan Godrie from his nursery in Dutch town Achtmaal bred 2 siblings, the male variety Godries Dwarf Green (pollinator) and the female Godries Little Ruby, which if pollinated by any male variety bears attractive, glossy, bright red fruits in autumn. It makes upright panicles composed of tine, cream white, strongly sweetly scented flowers whose buds form already in late summer and bloom in early spring. The evergreen leaves are dark green, narrowly elliptic, and very glossy. The breeder classifies them as a subspecies of skimmia reevesiana, which means that they are slow-growing, mound-forming shrubs, which make beautiful, densely branched cushions. European Patent No. EU 21194 was issued in 2008.

Nowadays in garden centres you can often find beautiful plants with berries all over the plant without any branches above them blocking the view. It is not natural, though. Those “blocking branches” were removed by the nurserymen who wanted to enhance the fruit display. But those branches would have carried flower buds to produce berries again the following year, so don’t be surprised not to arrive in flowers or berries in the coming year but the year after.

Planting skimmia well is the key success to its future performance. This beauty needs perfect soil to look well, no exaggerations, believe me. It has to be always moist but extremely well-drained, acidic (add peat), light (add leaf mould), and most of all humus-rich. The best location is dappled shade or even deep shade (shady back of your house or under thick canopies of tall trees). When leaves turn pale or even yellow the plant suffers from too much sun or water, or too little nutrients in the soil.

Skimmia is tolerant of atmospheric pollution which makes it an ideal choice for urban landscapes. Being suitable for all-year-round cultivation in outdoor pots it is widely used by trendy restaurants and cafes as a decoration of their outdoor seating areas where thanks to its compact habit it does not take up space. Just avoid sunny locations. Pruning is not recommended. The plant is poisonous. It is hardy to about -25 °C (USDA zone 5b-6).

Last update 10-11-2021

Skimmia japonica ssp. reevesiana
Skimmia japonica
Skimmia japonica
  • STANDARD QUALITY - Plants of this group are 1st class quality with number of branches and overall density adequate to their size and age, considering they were container grown.
  • DE LUXE QUALITY - This label guarantees a luxurious quality of manually selected plants that, compared to their height and age, are exceptionally dense and beautiful.
  • EXTRA - These plants are usually mature and bigger specimens with exceptional overall appearance.
  • STANDARD (as described in the plant form) means a tree with a trunk of 190-210 cm and a crown at the top, unless specified differently. The commercial size for trees is their girth measured in the height of 1m from ground.
  • HOBBY - These plants are of the same quality as our standard-quality plants but younger and therefore cheaper.
  • SHRUB - a woody plant with branches growing bushy from the ground level.
  • HALF-STANDARD or MINI-STANDARD - a small tree with shorter trunk, its size is usually specified.
  • FEATHERED - These are trees with branches growing already from the base of the trunk and up along the stem.
  • GRASSES and PERENNIALS - Sizes given usually read the diameter of the pot or the clump, as specified.
LARGE PLANTS over 150 cmspecimens, screening and hedging shrubs

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