Though it hails from China and Japan, this shrub has become a true Southern passalong plant, often seen gracing older cottage and country gardens. Grows 36 ft. tall and somewhat wider, with an open, rounded habit. Bright green, 2- to 4-in.-long, tooth-edged leaves are oval and pointed, with prominent veining; they emerge early in spring and may turn soft lemon-yellow in fall. Showy yellow flowers are single or double, 1142 in. across; they appear mainly in spring but continue sporadically throughout the summer. Flowers are solitary and resemble small rosesin fact, Japanese kerria is sometimes mistakenly called the yellow rose of Texas. In winter, the leafless bright green stems lend welcome color to the garden.
Give Japanese kerria room to display its naturally arching form. Use it in mixed borders and in combination with spring- blooming shrubs and bulbs; also striking when massed. Best sited in some shade, as the flowers tend to fade in hot sun. Cut branches are easy to force into early bloom indoors. Flowers dry easilyjust cut branches in full flower, place them in a vase of water, and let the stems gradually absorb the water. Selections include the following.
'Albiflora'. Sometimes called white kerria, but single flowers are actually pale, creamy yellow with bright yellow stamens. Grows 35 ft. tall and a bit wider.
'Geisha'. Leaves variably flecked with white and yellow. Double yellow flowers. Grows 46 ft. tall, 68 ft. wide.
'Golden Guinea'. Single golden yellow flowers are especially largeto 112 in. across. Plants reach 35 ft. tall and 68 ft. wide.
'Kin Kan'. Like the species but has soft yellow stems with thin, vertical green stripes.
'Picta' ('Variegata'). Gray-green leaves are attractively edged in white. Single bright yellow flowers are gaudy. Prune out any branches with leaves that revert to solid green. Grows 34 ft. tall, 56 ft. wide.
'Pleniflora'. Most popular form. Spreads more quickly than other types. Double golden blooms resemble tiny pompons. Upright grower; tends to be lanky. To 68 ft. tall and wide.
'Shannon'. Early bloomer, with large, deep yellow single flowers. Grows 56 ft. tall and a little wider.
Grows well in almost any reasonably well-drained soil. Plants form colonies from spreading roots. Propagation by division is easy: Use a sharp spade to separate a stem or two from the base of the mother plant in late winter. Or propagate by taking cuttings in summer. Prune heavily after bloom, cutting to the ground older stems that have bloomed. Also remove dead wood and spindly growth.