The Skimmia japonica is a plant from East Asia, which thrives in its home in the shade and undergrowth of dense mountain forests. For this reason, the robust ornamental plant prefers darker locations with diffuse lighting conditions. Once rooted in the preferred location, even cooler temperatures and periods of frost can hardly harm it. It is therefore not surprising that the Skimmia, with their evergreen leaves, striking flowers and red berries, are also increasingly found in home gardens. Some species of Skimmia japonica can also be cultivated as solitary plants in pots on the balcony or terrace.


It is not uncommon that fruit-bearing Skimmias do not bear any new fruit in the following year. However, neither care errors nor illness are the reason for this. Rather the fact that the East Asian plant is bisexual. For the formation of the red stone fruits, male and female Skimmia japonica are required, which should be planted in close proximity to each other. There are about one to two male plants for every five female Skimmia. The diamond plant is a real magnet for insects, but to give the bees and bumblebees a little help with pollination, a fine hairbrush is well suited for this.

  • The cut flower skimmia is suitable as a festive Christmas decoration.
  • From October the female flowers develop bright red drupes.
  • The evergreen leaves reach a length of up to 10 centimeters.
  • The plant only grows by about 10-15 centimeters per year.

Various cultivated forms of the Skimmia are now available in stores. These differ not only in the color of flowers and leaves, but also in their height. A small selection of hermaphrodite plants has also been available for purchase for a number of years. The following Skimmia japonica are popular species in Germany and are often found in parks and larger gardens:

  • Skimmia japonica Kew – white inflorescences
  • Skimmia japonica Keessen – white inflorescences
  • Skimmia japonica dome – low growing plant with white and pink flowers
  • Skimmia japonica rubella – delicately scented plant with pink-white flowers
  • Skimmia reevesiana – hybrid plant, does not need male plants for the formation of drupes

Location and soil

The evergreen shrub can be found in its original home mainly in the shade of cool mountain forests. It is hardly surprising that the plants therefore prefer a shady to partially shaded location in our latitudes. The rhombus does not get much direct sunlight; a place under dense conifers or on the edge of shade beds is much more likely. Skimmia can also be cultivated in pots without any problems and decorate the terrace and balcony in summer.

The Skimmia values ​​a humus-rich, homogeneous soil. Acidic soil, which is particularly common under conifers, must therefore be prepared with humus and clay before the rhombus can be planted.

The following requirements in terms of location and soil must be met:

  • Choose a place in light shade or partial shade
  • Permeable humus soil is required – enrich with compost if necessary
  • Avoid alkaline soil

Watering and fertilizing

To successfully cultivate the plant in home gardens or flower pots, it needs moderately moist soil. Especially in midsummer, the root ball of the evergreen ornamental plant must not dry out; it is important to check the substrate regularly. As soon as the top layer of soil has dried slightly, it is poured again. A layer of bark mulch or compost also stores the moisture and prevents the Skimmia from drying out too quickly. In addition, the East Asian rhombus is supplied with important nutrients.

Skimmia japonica does not make any great demands when it comes to fertilizing either: in March and October it is sufficient to mulch the soil and mix in compost, lawn clippings or horn shavings.

  • Water moderately, but regularly
  • If you have houseplants, you should also water them in winter
  • Stale, low-lime rainwater is ideal
  • Let the top soil layer dry
  • Compost layer retains moisture and supplies nutrients
  • Water more sparingly from mid-August to inhibit growth

In the case of Skimmia in flower pots and tubs, it is advisable to provide the plant with a small amount of liquid fertilizer every 14 days. If the fertilizer is dissolved in the irrigation water, the amount is evenly distributed over the plant substrate. But fertilizer sticks have also proven to be a cheap alternative.

Note: Temporary waterlogging does not damage the robust rhombus plant.

Planting and repotting

The plant is undemanding and only its needs for the shady location and the optimal soil conditions have to be met.

Cultivation in the field:

  • Avoid places with direct sunlight
  • Mix compost and possibly clay under the earth
  • Alkaline soil reduces the growth of the Skimmia
  • After planting, water extensively for the first few weeks to facilitate rooting and acclimatization

As a container plant:

  • Choose a heavy clay pot to counteract windthrow
  • Soil rich in humus is ideal
  • Prepare drainage from pebbles or potsherds on the bottom of the pot – this protects against waterlogging
  • Choose a partially shaded location – also on the window sill
  • Water sufficiently and regularly supply with liquid fertilizer

The rhombus roots in flower pots are sensitive to the cold and must therefore spend the winter in the winter garden or in another cool place.

Skimmia japonica has no problem with being transplanted or relocated in spring or late autumn. Because of their slow growth, potted plants are only repotted every two years.


The germination capacity of self-harvested seeds is extremely low and tedious. On the other hand, the evergreen Skimmia is much more likely to succeed in propagating using cuttings.

  • The optimal time is early spring and mid-August
  • Cut off 15 centimeters from a not yet lignified shoot
  • Remove buds, flowers and some of the leaves
  • The cutting should only have about 3 pairs of leaves
  • Place in a prepared container with a humus-rich plant substrate
  • Pour on and stretch a foil over the pot to prevent evaporation
  • Holes in the film reduce the risk of mold growth
  • A bright location and warm temperatures make it easier to root

The East Asian plant takes a long time to sprout roots. It is often advisable to let the young cutting hibernate in the house.

Sowing by seeds:

  • Skimmia are cold germs and need a cold period of around 6 weeks in the refrigerator or garden
  • Prepare the plant box
  • Cover the seeds lightly with soil
  • Keep the planter and soil moist and cool
  • It will take several weeks for the first seedlings to appear
  • Separate the seedlings in spring and cultivate them in open ground or in clay pots.


Skimmia japonica that are firmly rooted in the garden are hardy and defy even double-digit minus temperatures. Only the cells of non-lignified young shoots of the slowly growing plant can be damaged by frost. To prevent this, the watering amount is reduced as early as August, so that the growth of the rhombus is inhibited. With its evergreen leaves and bright red berries, the Skimmia is also an interesting eye-catcher in the winter garden.

Indoor plants and also Skimmia, which are kept as potted plants on the balcony or terrace, have to spend the cold season in a bright, cool location. They absolutely do not get dry heating air, but an ambient temperature between 5 – 15 ° C is ideal for the rhombus.

To cut

In their homeland, Skimmia japonica reach a height of well over 5 meters. The maximum height in our latitudes is only about 1 meter and it takes several years before the slowly growing plant reaches this size. However, the easy-care and robust Skimmia need special attention when trimming:

  • Remove dead inflorescences from the male plant
  • Leave the flowers of the female Skimmia japonica untouched, because the red drupes develop from them in October
  • Thinning out, cutting back or trimming older branches and secondary shoots completely

The difference between the sexes is easiest to recognize during flowering: male flowers have a much more intense odor than those of female plants.

Care tips

  • Rhododendron earth fulfills all conditions that the Skimmia need
  • Periods of frost can damage potted plants
    • therefore overwinter in a cool, frost-proof room in a bright room
  • Female flowers develop red berries by October at the latest and must not be removed. Provided, of course, that male plants are available for pollination.
  • with yellow leaves, brown spots or curled tips, the Skimmia japonica is exposed to too much direct sunlight
    • Change location
  • The monoecious hermaphrodite Skimmia reevesiana has been available in specialist shops for a number of years. This Skimmia is able to fertilize itself and reliably forms the bright red berries in autumn
    • ideal plant for balconies and conservatories

Diseases and pests

The shade plant is extremely robust, even diseases are a rarity with it. Leaf discoloration or dying shoots often indicate care errors and can be remedied without the use of chemical agents. The situation is different with pests, however, because lice and spider mites do not stop at the exotic ornamental plant.

Spider mites
The approximately 0.5 – 1 mm large pests are not picky about their host plant and are therefore more often found on Skimmia. Piercing and sucking, they extract the vital cell sap of the leaves from the plant. Affected regions take on a yellowish to pale silver color. The leaves become increasingly discolored and dry out completely in the final stage. Another visible indication of the infestation of spider mites are their fine webs, which are clearly visible when sprayed with water. Treatment with chemical agents must be consistent, otherwise the pests develop a resistance to it. In the case of a few animals, it is sufficient to wash the plant with water and a broth made from nettles for a period of about 6 weeks.

Aphids, mealybugs and mealybugs prefer the tasty cell sap of the plant. Immediate action against the pests is required to prevent transmission to neighboring plants. Commercially available insecticides have proven their worth, as have natural predators.

Houseplants and ornamental plants are also generally not immune to attack by harmful insects. If the plant or its fruits are not cultivated for consumption, chemical agents can be used without hesitation.

The evergreen Skimmia is easy to cultivate outdoors and easily defies double-digit minus temperatures. In spring the slowly growing plant impresses with its fragrant flowers and in winter the bright red stone fruits offer an interesting color contrast. Diseases can also do little to harm the exotic diamond plant, which makes it an ideal beginner plant for budding hobby gardeners.

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