Plant Collector: Kerria japonica “Pleniflora”

Kerria japonica 'Pleniflora'

Kerria japonica ‘Pleniflora’

I hadn’t registered the kerria until we went to see the bluebells at Te Popo Gardens and there, lo and behold, it was impossible to ignore. The double form looked somewhat like a bright gold, thornless banksia rose. I wasn’t quite so keen on the single form which is a bit like a giant buttercup flower but others may like the simplicity. On a gloomy early spring morning, the kerria were like rays of gold.

This is a deciduous, clumping Chinese shrub which will spread by putting out suckers. It flowers just at the point when the leaves start to emerge. It is not a plant with strong form or shape, being more a thicket of arching canes. When not flowering, it is one of those anonymous plants that does nothing to attract attention to itself. It benefits from being pruned (thinned, really) once a year because the flowers come on the newest canes. Treat it like a raspberry, in other words.

The real boon is that kerrias are not fussy and they will grow and flower in shade – full shade, even. It is no surprise that the Japanese have always liked them. An arching spray of golden flowers is a wonderful statement of both simplicity and cheer.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

4 thoughts on “Plant Collector: Kerria japonica “Pleniflora”

  1. thebikinggardener

    Kerria is one of thise shrubs that is easy to ignore because it is so easy to grow and is often one of the survivors in neglected gardens, along with a big clump of day lilies. But when well grown it is a lovely thing. I always think it is odd that the single-flowered version has such a different habit and flowering time.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Both the single and double forms were flowering at the same time in the garden we visited it.But yes, I can see how they would be survivors in neglected gardens.

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