Plant Pick – Growing Skimmia
Okay, I know it’s still summer, but winter will be here before you know it. I’m honestly hoping for a cold snap this year – the wet, grey winter of 2013 was horrendous; I don’t think we had even one frost in London. That’s BAD for plants – they need dormancy. And it’s BAD for gardeners – we need a rest, AND we need lots of those garden pests killing off. If there’s no snow or frost, all those little larvae and eggs hiding in the soil just hatch and munch away with nothing to stop them!
Anyhow, I digress. If you’re thinking about seasonal planting for this winter, then I highly advise the use of Skimmia. These hardy evergreens are ideal for use in pots, and though they normally flower in the spring, you can normally pick up plants in the autumn which have been forced ahead of time, meaning you have both greenery and blooms to brighten up the dark winter days. In addition, if you manage to get hold of Skimmia ‘Fragrans’, you’ll also get a little scent too; anything to cheer up a cold day is a bonus, right?
I tend to use Skimmia in pots because I’ve found them to be rather slow growing, and in a herbaceous bed it means they’re lost pretty quickly when spring arrives and everything starts to go mad. Planted up alongside some winter bulbs or violas, and any of the small carex species, they make a welcome sight either side of the porch. Alternatively, pop them out on the patio to draw your eye to the garden even on those days when just the thought of going outside makes you shudder.
Thrives In: Full or partial shade, and in both exposed and sheltered positions; i.e. most places.
Yearly Care: Extremely low maintenance. You might want to clip off the old flowers to neaten up the plant. In sunny positions, the leaves may become chorotic (lose their colour and become pale or even white). In such cases, it’s best to move plants and remove the damaged foliage.
Growing Medium: Moist and well-drained soil is best, particularly if planted in a sunny aspect. In winter pots, ensure there’s moderate fertile soil to ensure good growth.
Quick Tip: Ideal for winter pots as its slow growing and makes the perfect contrast plant with overwintering violas or pansies.