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Anyone grow Kerria Japonica?

NollieNollie Posts: 7,316
I am considering this for a mostly shaded site, it looks just the thing for some cheery yellow spring colour and I like the look of the foliage to brighten up a dull corner. There is space and height, but I am wondering how madly it suckers in reality and how difficult it is to control of it does? I would like to plant other shade-tolerant shrubs nearby, would it eat everything?

I like the look of Pleniflora, but would a smaller one like Golden Guinea be more controllable?

I would love to have a Rhododendron Luteum there, but my soil is alkaline so I guess that’s a no.
Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.


  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Posts: 11,391
    Used to have 3 clumps, but all died off due to kerria twig and leaf blight.  Hopefully, that's not a problem in Spain.  Old thread:

    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 11,621
    My mum had a large clump of it in her garden next to a lawn but I don't remember it suckering a lot. She had heavy clay soil though, I don't know whether it would cope with your rocky dry soil Nollie. I have a bit of it here which clings onto life in a corner of the parking area and competes with the privet hedge - it hasn't suckered yet in 14 years!

    A variegated shrub that does well for me here is Euronymus Emerald and Gold in a shady corner, grows to 3-5ft or so and looks very cheerful in deep midwinter. Combines well with daffodils in spring. Not sure it would survive your cold winters, you have such a tricky location, must make it difficult to choose plants. 
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,627
    I have inherited one here, planted on a bank covered in weed membrane.   It's horrid.

    Very short flowering period followed by desperately dull foliage that looks even worse by the end of a hot dry summer and even so it tries to sucker.   On my list of plants for OH to remove.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • bertrand-mabelbertrand-mabel Posts: 2,519
    We have it in our clay soil and it has suckered but were it is we don't worry. The colour in the spring is lovely. The foliage does well here.
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,316
    Hmm, that’s really helpful, thanks everyone, not exactly glowing reviews then!

    Thanks for the heads-up re the blight @BobTheGardener that looks pretty dire. No idea if it is here or not, must look into that.

    @Lizzie27, my soil is heavy clay, just not much of it on a rocky base but I will be raising it (everything requires raised beds here). Its not too dry there as it gets some runoff from the septic tank drain field, but yes choosing plants is always a challenge! However, if it suckers madly for you @Obelixx I suspect it would here too.

    Time to think again 🤨 

    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • OmoriOmori Posts: 1,673
    Mine suffered the same fate as Bob’s, and it can look manky if not cut back appropriately, or grown in the right conditions. It grows in the Japanese mountains, so those type of conditions will suit it best. Part shade, moist soil. Course this is probably all moot as it will sucker, which you don’t want for your intended space. It wants to spread and arch over things. 
  • I've got one @Nollie, maybe my climate is a bit nearer yours. Very cheerful colour each spring, and the new leaf foliage is a nice fresh green. It does have a tendency to spread/sucker but I find it easy to dig out if it gets carried away with itself. A good haircut after flowering seems to keep it check. Mine is next to a Mahonia and Pieris in a shrubby border and is a nice contrast of green and texture/form. Low maintenance, fills a gap and so pleasing to see that early colour. 
    "To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul." — Alfred Austin
  • LG_LG_ Posts: 4,248
    I used to have one, I liked it. It did sucker, but not uncontrollably. It succumbed to Kerria blight though.
    'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.'
    - Cicero
  • NollieNollie Posts: 7,316
    Thanks for the additional comments everyone. Some more positive reviews and appreciate the advice about controlling suckers and haircuts, and hopefully the raised bed would help contain it too. I think in that shady, more moist spot (a rarity here) I can keep it happy, so the main concern would be blight. I can’t find any reports of the blight in Spain, but the plant would be coming from a French nursery, so it depends if it’s there.

    That was my feeling too @D0rdogne_Damsel, fresh green foliage and welcome early colour as part of a shrub border. Sounds as if you have exactly what I was envisioning!

    I might chance a smaller cultivar...
    Mountainous Northern Catalunya, Spain. Hot summers, cold winters.
  • Poly-anthusPoly-anthus Posts: 151
    I had this in my last garden in heavy clay soil.  It marched half way down the border between us and our neighbour.  I would never have it again.  I was never done digging out the suckers.
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