Skimmie, Skimmia japonica - care and help with yellow leaves

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In winter a small shrub trumps in the garden with evergreen leaves, the decorative dialogue with bright red berries until March. In spring, the Asian charm offensive continues with a wonderfully fragrant flowers. Triste niches in low-light locations are now a thing of the past thanks to Skimmie. A Skimmia japonica is reserved when it comes to the demands of her care. Read here how to properly water, fertilize and cut the multifaceted ornamental wood. Here you will also find field-tested help with yellow leaves.

What's the difference between Fruit Skimmie and Flower Skimmie?

If there is a solitary Skimmie in the bed and on the balcony, you will look in vain for the bright red fruit hanging in the autumn. The decorative ornamental wood is a two-sex plant. This property implies that at least one female and one male Skimmia japonica must be in close proximity to each other for successful pollination.
In spring, both bushes bear white, fragrant flowers, which can not be distinguished by their sex for a layman. When making a purchase, the distinction is easier. A male Skimmie offers the specialized trade under the designation 'flower Skimmie'. The female counterpart is signposted as 'Fruit Skimmie'.

Location in the bed

From their decorative properties, creative home gardeners benefit in the bed. So that the hope for the red berry decoration over an evergreen leaves dress is fulfilled, the choice of the location is an important criterion. A look at the Asian homeland shows where a Skimmia japonica feels in good hands. In the mountain forests of East Asia lies the pretty small shrub of majestic trees at their feet, whose crowns filter the sunlight. Therefore assign the ornamental shrub in the bed a location with the following conditions:
  • Subdued to partially shaded location
  • In the shade, flowers and berries thrive only sparsely
  • Humid, warm and protected
  • Nutrient-rich, fresh to moist garden soil
  • An acidic pH of 5.0 to 6.5
Against the dark backdrop of a conifer hedge or as underplanting of coniferous trees, the flower and fruit ornamental tree comes in wonderful. Likewise, a Skimmia japonica feels at home in company with rhododendrons, hydrangeas and azaleas. Wherever no blazing sun or full shade dominates and a fresh, acidic garden soil harbors its roots, the Skimmie brings you floral happy moments in winter and spring.

Location on the balcony

If you want colorful accents on the balcony in winter and a sea of ​​flowers in the spring, you have made a smart choice with Skimmien. The small shrubs in the pot are protected from the blazing winter sun and freezing cold, they can spend the whole year under the open sky. So that the buckets do not tip over, a wind-sheltered location is recommended. To ensure pollination, one male flower Skimmie and one female fruit Skimmie should be potted in each planter.


Since the Asian rhombus plant wants a nutrient-rich and at the same time acid soil, we recommend for the pot culture rhododendron or azalea earth enriched with expanded clay or lava granulate for a good ventilation and permeability. By adding some clay, the stability of bucket and balcony box is optimized.
Tip: As a houseplant, the Skimmie feels uncomfortable, as it has to suffer from dry heating air very much. If anything, the ornamental wood in the pot should be placed in a partially shaded window seat at a cool 10 to 15 degrees Celsius, where humidity levels in excess of 60 percent are taken care of.

to water

The casting intervals do not follow a fixed timetable. Rather, there is always a need for water when the earth has dried on the surface felt. Waterlogging and drought stress are avoided by checking the moisture content of the root disk daily by fingerprinting. How to pour a Skimmie correctly:
  • Always use stale tap water or filtered rainwater
  • Do not let Skimmie dry out at any time
  • Allow the soil and substrate to dry slightly between waterings
  • Pour the saucer into the pot after 10 minutes
On the balcony you will water the small shrub more often, because the root ball dries out quickly due to its exposed location, especially in summer. Since a Skimmia japonica as an evergreen woodland also evaporates moisture in the winter, you will continue to pour in the drought. However, from September, the amount of water will be gradually reduced and only continued at a low level.As a result, the plant stops growing in the fall so that no new shoots thrive, which would freeze to death in winter.


Tip: A mulch layer in the bed and pot protects the soil from dryness. Well suited are bark mulch, leaves or pine needles.
During growth and flowering, your Skimmie will be grateful for extra nutrients, as the evergreen leaves, fragrant flowers and magnificent berry jewelry cost a lot of energy. For the supply in the bed and on the balcony the following options are available:
  • In the bed from March to August fertilize every 4 weeks with acid leaf or needle compost
  • Alternatively, spread a low-lime fertilizer in March and June, rake in and water
  • In the pot and balcony box every 14 days to administer a liquid fertilizer for bog beds
  • Alternatively, in spring and summer, press fertilizer sticks into the substrate with long-term effect
At the end of August, we recommend fertilizing for the last time with potassium-rich comfrey jelly, a liquid potassium fertilizer or Thomaskali from specialist retailers. An extra dose of potassium lowers the freezing point in cell water and strengthens the cell tissue. In September, the nutrient supply ends at the same time as reducing the amount of water. In this way, you underpin the winter hardiness of the ornamental shrub, as it is better prepared in growth quiet for frosty temperatures.

To cut

In view of the leisurely increase of 5 to 10 cm per year, the scissors on a Skimmia japonica is rarely used. Under the influence of the Central European climate, the ornamental shrub reaches its maximum height of 100 to 120 cm only uncut after 10 years or later. The professional pruning distinguishes after the female fruit Skimmie and the male flower Skimmie. With this cut you do everything right:
  • Cut off the withered flowers in summer on male plants only when needed
  • Shorten too long shoots until just above a sleeping eye
  • Do not trim or prune female plants after flowering
  • Every 1 to 2 years a Skimmie in the late winter auslichten
By cutting back a fruit skimmie after flowering, you deprive the plant of its seed stems and thus the ornamental berries in autumn and winter. In contrast, a male plant has fulfilled its task as a pollinator after flowering and can be cut back to the desired size. On the other hand, both Skimmia japonica should be cleaned regularly from dead wood and frozen twigs, so that they do not get bleached from the inside because no more light gets there.
Tip: The Skimmie is slightly toxic in all parts. In particular, the red berries are not suitable for human consumption. The birds of the garden, on the other hand, are immensely happy about the valuable food source in winter.



The further the woodiness of a Skimmie has progressed, the more frost-resistant are the shoots. In the bed, therefore, at least during the first 5 years of existence, some precautions must be taken to ensure that the small shrub remains healthy and alert. In the pot and balcony box are protective measures in every late autumn on the plan. So you overwinter a Skimmia japonica with success:
  • From August, gradually pour less, without causing dryness in the ball
  • Do not administer fertilizer from September to March
  • In the bed before the first frost on the root disk mulch with leaves and Nadelreisig
  • Place pot and balcony box on wood and cover with insulating material
  • The substrate is covered with leaves, straw or woody wool
If the mercury column exceeds the freezing point in late winter and spring, winter protection is removed. This is especially true for organic mulch layers, as it could cause rot due to condensation.


A skimmie takes several years to root her pot. However, when root strands grow out of the bottom opening, the small shrub signals the desire for a larger vessel with fresh soil. The best time for this action is in the spring, between the end of hibernation and the beginning of flowering. This is how you proceed step by step:
  • In the new planter there is a maximum of 2 finger-width distance between root ball and edge
  • Expanded clay or potsherds above the floor opening act as protection against waterlogging
  • An air- and water-permeable fleece between the drainage and the substrate prevents entanglement
  • Fill in a few handfuls of fresh earth over the fleece
  • Use the stuffed Skimmie while maintaining the planting depth
Shake the decayed substrate from the root ball, have a clear view of the root system. This is a good opportunity to remove dead, dead strands with a sharp, disinfected pair of scissors. After the ornamental shrub has taken its place in the new substrate, pour moderately. It is only fertilized after repotting after 4 to 6 weeks, because the earth has a supply of nutrients.

This helps with yellow leaves

With yellow leaves, the evergreen Skimmie loses its attractiveness considerably.In the long run, the graceful small shrub dies if no adequate measures are taken against this damage pattern. The focus is on 3 common causes of yellowed leaves, which are discussed in more detail below, supplemented with helpful tips for solving the problem.

leaf chlorosis

A Skimmie lacks any tolerance for lime. Therefore, every expert care manual insists on the use of an acidic soil with a pH of 5 to 6. If only hard water is used for casting, the pH jumps up because the lime content accumulates. As a result, vital iron is fixed in the soil and can not be transported through the roots to the foliage. Then the leaves turn yellow while the green leaf veins still shine through. This helps:
  • Immediately pour the affected Skimmie exclusively with lime-free water
  • Transfer potted plants to acidic rhododendron soil
  • Undermine peat or bog bed in the bed without damaging the roots
To compensate for the shortage of iron and magnesium in the fastest way, we recommend foliar fertilization with liquid iron fertilizer. Preparations such as Neudorff Ferramin iron fertilizer or Foliovit from Terraflor are water-soluble as chelates. Dissolve according to the instructions of the manufacturer, spray all the leaves of Skimmie on the lower and upper sides. So that the liquid preparation does not drip immediately, add a few drops of dishwashing liquid. It is important to note that the fertilizer is not sprayed into the flowers and not in direct sunlight.


As an Asian forest plant the Skimmie knows no direct sunshine. If the ornamental shrub in the bed or on the balcony is still in the sun, yellow, rolling leaves are inevitable. Indications for a sunburn are yellow spots in the places where the sun hits. If these light yellow spots do not spread further, it is a location problem and not a disease or leaf chlorosis. Settle the plant immediately to a partially shaded spot. It is advantageous if the yellow leaves are not cut off, as the remaining green tissue continues to contribute to photosynthesis.

nutrient deficiency

If leaf chlorosis and sunburn can be excluded as a cause, it is highly likely to be a nutrient deficiency. Since a Skimmia japonica as an evergreen shrub does not shed its leaves, it is particularly dependent on additional nutrients during the growth and flowering period. If it comes to a deficiency here, it deprives the leaves of the last remnants to invest in the flowers and berries, which guarantee the survival. As a result of this shift, the leaves turn yellow. This helps:
  • From spring to fall start in the bed every 3 to 4 weeks fertilize with acidic compost
  • Additionally fertilize with Thomaskali at the end of August / beginning of September
  • On the balcony from March to August every 14 days liquid fertilizer into the irrigation water


When selecting the fertilizer, make sure that it is low in lime. A fertilizer declared for rhododendron, azalea or hydrangea also covers the nutrient needs of a skimmie.
The Skimmie thrilled with fragrant spring blossom, evergreen leaves and red berry jewelry. In order for the floral gem from the forests of East Asia to feel at home in our latitudes, a partially shaded, sheltered location is important. The soil should be sour, moist and nutritious, because with lime a Skimmia japonica may have nothing to do. In summer, the substrate should be constantly slightly moist, mainly using soft water. Every 2 to 4 weeks an acid fertilizer in solid or liquid form, guarantee vitality and flowering. In August, the winter maintenance program is modified by reducing the amount of water and adjusting the nutrient supply. Nevertheless, with yellow leaves, the most common causes are foliar chlorosis, sunburn and nutrient deficiency. How to respond correctly to these triggers is no secret after reading this manual.

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