Skimmia reevesiana, sometimes called Reeves skimmia or Chinese skimmia, is a low-growing shrub with evergreen foliage. It is native to parts of Asia, and is hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 6 through 8. Unlike other skimmia varieties, this shrub doesn't require pollination to produce berries. The berries are very toxic and should never be consumed.
Skimmia reevesiana has shiny, deep green leaves and grows to a height of approximately 3 feet. It forms dense clumps that spread up to 3 feet in diameter. Sweetly-scented white flower clusters appear in spring and are striking against the dark foliage. In fall, bright red berries form and remain on the plant well into winter, adding a splash of colour to the drab winter landscape.
This shrub is ideal for areas of the garden where many other plants won't survive, as it requires soil that is constantly damp or even wet. It also prefers rich soil with high acidity. Skimmia reevesiana thrives in partial to full shade, and its leaves are likely to fade to an unsightly shade of yellow if planted in a location with too much sun. Give the plant a boost by adding organic compost when planting, and make sure the top of the root ball is level with the surface of the soil.
Frequent, deep watering is a must during the first season after planting, especially when the weather is dry. Continue to water during dry spells even after the roots are established. A spring application of acid-loving plant fertiliser, such as one designed for rhododendrons or azaleas, is beneficial. Skimmia reevesiana requires no heavy pruning, but remove flimsy growth as well as dead or damaged branches during late winter or early spring.
Uses in the Landscape
Skimmia reevesiana can be used in a variety of ways; its compact size makes it excellent for shady borders or for planting beneath taller shrubs or trees. It also makes a tidy foundation planting, but is colourful enough to be a focal point in the garden. It's size makes it a good choice for gardeners with limited space, and it even does well in a planter if supplied with plentiful moisture.