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Kerria Japonica - Gorgeous And Hardy

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Spring-flowering shrubs, which can compete in their brightness of color with the best first-flowers, are always associated with forsythia. But there is another culture, already in May, setting the tone for lush spring flower beds and squares, and then repeating the show even in the run-up to the fall. This magnificent Japanese kerria is one of the best plants in terms of adaptability. Easy to grow, hardy, undemanding, Japanese kerria is capable of being one of the most striking shrubs that create the foundation when decorating a garden. Even in winter the kerria has something to show off.

Kerria japonica - gorgeous and hardy
Kerria japonica (Kerria japonica). © Père Igor

Sunny splendor of kerria

From among ornamental shrubs, Japanese kerria is considered a special rare and exclusive star. It is not as popular as forsythia. Often the plant is bypassed by their attention, thinking that such its lushness and effect - a sign that the plant will have to provide a complex and tireless care. But the kerria is one of the most unpretentious plants, which can be recommended even to the most inexperienced gardeners. The endurance and unpretentiousness of this shrub can compete only with its decorative merits.

Kerria japonica (Kerria japonica) - Eastern in origin, and in style too, a decorative deciduous shrub from the family Pink. The species name of kerria often leads to confusion, because the homeland of this plant is not actually considered Japan, but China. The folk names of the plant are a clear indication of its extraordinary flowering beauty. The Easter rose or Japanese rose is so known all over the world and especially it is loved in European landscape design. Average height of the plant is 1.5-2 m (up to the maximum 3 m the plant can grow both in nature and in free cultivation without formation in gardens), it can be easily regulated by pruning and forming. They are compact deciduous shrubs with slender shoots. Kerria shoots are green and straight, they initially form a rather strict pyramidal crown, but with age the shrub becomes more lush and curly, the shoots bend and the shape of the bush changes. One of the most valuable features of Japanese kerria is a strikingly elegant, not too dense, but seemingly curly crown.

This shrub seems fluffy and ornate at any time of year, even in winter impressing with its lacy pattern and bright lettuce color of shoots. Kerria shoots are thin, look strikingly graceful and only accentuate the beauty of the plant. All kerrias have small but beautiful lanceolate-shaped leaves, which vary in length from 2 to 10 cm, and width - up to 5 cm. The serrated edge of the leaves decorates the plant, as does their rich light green coloration in summer. The underside of the leaves is pubescent, the upper side is bare. The yellow spring and autumn flowering of kerria seems to pick up the crown as well: in autumn the leaves of the plant repaint in bright yellow color, completing the yellow parade of the plant.

The flowering of Japanese kerria starts in April, and in regions with harsh winters - in May and continues in June, it is striking for its duration. In favorable weather and high temperatures, with sufficient soil moisture, the shrubs bloom again in August or September. On average, the flowering period of kerria lasts from 25 to 35 days, sometimes more than a month and a half. The length of the flowering period depends directly on the weather and growing conditions. If currias frosted over the winter, the shrub will not bloom until August-September. Currias flowers are solitary and look very much like buttercups, with their rich yellow color, simple petals and fluffy stamen center. The flowers are located on the ends of shoots or in the axils of future leaves. The flowers vary in diameter from 3 to almost 5 cm in the best varieties. In addition to simple forms, there are also terry varieties. They smell most like dandelions.

After flowering, almost black, spherical-shaped bolls of fruit are set, but only in regions with mild winters. In the middle belt, currias do not bear fruit.

Decorative forms and varieties of currias

To get confused in the variety of currias is very difficult, because in the genus of these shrubs curria is a single plant. And decorative forms or varieties can literally be counted on the fingers. But at the same time, you can not call kerrias boring. For those who want something unusual or even more colorful, currias offer a large selection of ornamental varieties. Currias are available with both simple and large flowers, and varieties allow you to choose between the size and structure of the bushes, the lushness of the flowers or different silhouettes.

The best varieties of kerria for the middle belt rightly include:

  • kerria Japanese 'Picta' with a meter-long bush, mottled leaves, on the surface of which almost white spots and fringes appear irregularly (under the same name sell mottled Japanesekerria 'Variegata', these names conditionally can be considered synonyms);
  • a slow-growing form with asymmetrical white-coated leaves and a more unsightly bush 'Albomarginata';
  • Japanese 'Argenteomarginata' with a thinner white border and rather tall two-meter tall bushes;
  • Japanese 'Plena', often called the buttercup shrub in catalogs and nurseries, is an actively growing form, especially well suited for hedges due to the formation of numerous root shoots;
  • one of the most popular Japanese 'Pleniflora', famous for the golden shade of its more pompon-like varieties of ground flowers;
  • The 'Golden Guinea' variety with the perfect shape of simple flowers, the dazzling lemon-dark shade and the unusual plenty of flowers;
  • The 'Kin Kan' variety with simple but surprisingly many flowers;
  • the white-flowered 'Albiflora'.

The only "but" in choosing variety plants is to be sure to choose varieties that grow in your area, because imported or non-acclimatized cultivars can unpleasantly surprise with loss in the first winter or poor flowering.

Kerria japonica - gorgeous and hardy
Kerria japonica (Kerria japonica)

Use of Kerria in ornamental gardening

Kerria japonica is equally good as a solitary shrub (soloist) or in a large group. This plant is capable of handling any task. Kerria can be combined with other shrubs and woody, herbaceous plants of any size, as long as they are suited to the same conditions.

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Kerria can even be used in gardens of minimal size, particularly on small patios of townhouses. It is a compact and highly ornamental shrub that will not get lost in a large garden and can perform a variety of decorative tasks in small plots.

The main feature valued in kerria is early and double flowering. It is one of the most spectacular spring-flowering shrubs. As a spring or autumn accent, kerria is introduced into the baton of continuous flowering, grown in seasonal compositions.

Japanese kerria is used in garden decoration:

  • in hedges;
  • in flower gardens;
  • in mixed rabatas;
  • in single beds;
  • for lawn decoration (singly or in small groups);
  • to create background arrays;
  • to decorate a front garden;
  • in glades of groundcovers;
  • in landscape plantings.

This shrub feels good not only in open soil, but also in container culture. Both in tubs and pots, and in stone flowerpots or plinths the kerria will arrange magnificent accents in the garden, fit into a potted garden or add expressiveness to rest areas.

Japanese kerria can also be used for bunting, decorating winter and spring interior with blossoming sprigs.

Best partners for Japanese kerria:

  • Forest, rhododendrons, spires, forsythia, mahonia, vesicle, turf, lapdot and other landscape shrubs;
  • decoratively deciduous perennials and groundcover plants - geichera, phlox, periwinkle, tiarella, Ivy;
  • spring stars from tulips and daffodils to primroses and forget-me-nots

conditions necessary for kerria

Kerria perfectly adapts to the most different lighting. This shrub will decorate sunny and bright, and semi-shady, and even shady locations, where only white-flowered shrubs can compete with kerria in the effect of highlighting. The possibility to grow even in the scattered shade of large trees without a complete loss of the ability to bloom lushly is explained simply: kerria begins to parade long before the trees have the main mass of leaves blooming. But the intensity and abundance of kerria flowering in heavy shade is reduced compared to plants growing in open areas. In sunny, southern locations, the flowers are prone to burn out. When choosing a place for planting kerria it's worth remembering that the plant doesn't like open and windy places, it is not wind-resistant because of fragile shoots and will demonstrate its beauty only on sheltered sites. Kerria is able to take root in any place, but achieves the greatest decorative effect in high-quality garden soils. Kerria japanskaya prefers moderately moist soils, can grow even in dampness, provided that a good drainage is laid. The main thing is that the soil should be loose, loamy or sandy loam, not too fertile and not depleted. In heavy soil during planting it is worth introducing sand, in the non-fertile - organic and mineral fertilizers.

One of the main advantages of curry is resistance to contaminated environment. It can be used for urban landscaping, decorating areas near highways and other places with increased pollution. © David Beaulieu

Peculiarities of planting kerria

Kerria japonica can be planted both in spring and autumn. Spring planting is preferable for the middle zone, but it is possible to plant kerria in autumn on condition of good winter sheltering - in one and a half months before the arrival of stable frosts. In spring, planting seedlings is carried out before the buds blossom. If you buy Japanese kerria seedlings with a closed root system, the plants can be planted during the whole active garden season.

Kerria is planted in planting pits with a depth and diameter of about half a meter. In places with high soil humidity, the pits are made deeper and a high layer of drainage is placed in the bottom. The excavated soil is improved by adding organic and mineral fertilizers. Kerria is installed in the planting hole with preservation of the previous level of deepening, placing the root neck not below the level of the soil. After planting, abundant watering and mulching should be done.

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Cerria Japanese care

Cerrias are considered easy to care for shrubs, but they will still need extra watering. Without drought-compensating water treatments, the kerria may drop its attractive foliage much prematurely, and its flowering will deteriorate and be reduced. Regular and frequent watering is not necessary: Just remember about 2 to 3 very abundant waterings during the summer, which will not allow the plant to lose its decorativeness during the driest season. Additional procedures are carried out during the flowering period and on the hottest days.

Trimming and shaping of Japanese kerria

The basic pruning on kerria is done in spring. Like planting, the sanitary cleaning and shaping procedures should be completed before the sap starts to swell and the buds swell. All dry, damaged, frost-damaged shoots of the plant must be cut back to healthy wood. After sanitary cleaning, all remaining shoots (if necessary to maintain strict bush forms) are shortened by a quarter to a third of their height to stimulate thickening and obtain a more effective and abundant flowering crown. On kerries growing without formation, pruning can be omitted or the tips of the shoots can be slightly shortened to stimulate growth.

Summer pruning on this shrub is limited to shortening the flowering shoots to stimulate the growth of the young twigs. Pruning is usually done in June, a few days after blossoming, to shoots that did not bloom during the first wave. On adult kerries older than 5-6 years, the oldest, four- and five-year-old shoots are also removed after flowering so that the bush is constantly renewed. In summer if necessary thinning out overgrown bushes can be made. The branches are thin and easy to cut, but you should use only very sharp tools and not cause too much damage to the branches, making clean and smooth cuts. Kerria is content with both mulching with compost and full mineral fertilizers in liquid form. The plant does not like manure, but likes additional feedings with wood ash.

Kerria japonica - gorgeous and hardy
Japanese kerria in the flower bed

Hibernation of Japanese kerria

Frost-resistance of kerria directly depends on where the plant was cultivated. Usually for this shrub it is stated frost-resistance below average, the ability to withstand frosts up to -20 degrees and freezing to the level of snow in stronger frosts. But in fact it is better to specify frost resistance for each particular plant, because as a rule, currias grown by local nurseries do not freeze even in very unstable winters with sharp temperature jumps. Frozen to the level of snow cover because of severe frosts, currias recover after cutting damaged tissues in a few weeks and enjoy blossoming in terms typical for the second wave of frost-free shrubs - at the end of summer and beginning of autumn. In case of frost, warming, stagnation of melt water, the kerria is almost guaranteed to die. Therefore, even local, acclimatized plants are always additionally protected in the fall. You can also simply cover the shrub with waterproof materials and mulch the root circle with dry leaves. But if you make the cover more thorough, save the shoots until spring from freezing, flowering will come in typical terms and will be strikingly abundant.

As a cover is enough to organize tying or ducking the crown, filling the bush with dry leaves with a light cover with waterproof covering material (any film will do) with holes for airing. Such simple protection will help protect the plant from severe frosts, and from excessive moisture. Covering for winter is made only when the air temperature drops to minus 10 degrees (it is done to prevent hatching). Kerria is uncovered in stages, first removing the film, then reducing the height of dry dip to 15 cm, and then removing the cover completely.

Pest and Disease Control

Japanese kerria is one of the most resistant ornamental flowering shrubs. It can suffer from frost damage, but pests and diseases are very rare on the plant.

Propagation of Kerria japonica

This garden shrub makes it easy to increase your collection on its own. Kerria is propagated by both seed and vegetative methods.

Separation of rootstock is the easiest way to get seedlings in all Japanese Kerria, even varietal ones. The shrub is constantly expanding, spreading out thanks to the sprouts of its roots. And this property simplifies not only the creation of dense hedges, but also allows you to get a large offspring. New plants can also be obtained by rooting offshoots: the shoots are enough to fix in the soil and constantly maintain its moisture, and the next spring new bushes can already be set off from the mother plant.

Cerria seedlings take root quickly, and plants grow quite actively, reaching decorativeness in a few years. The rooting rate when treated with growth stimulants is very high - up to 100%. Rooting is carried out in a standard substrate under a hood.