Kerria, the Japanese Rose

Written by Susan Broderick for Dabah Landscape Designs

When first I saw Kerria japonica 'Pleniflora' it was love at first sight.  The leaves reminded me of boysenberries – which I love – and the flowers were simply gorgeous.  There was a profusion of miniature yellow “roses” with the slightest hint of orange covering this shrub.

Of course I purchased one and brought it home to plant in that empty corner of the front yard.  It grew to drape over the stone wall and kept my yard decorated for many years.

Kerria does well in full or partial shade and tolerates full sun but the sun will bleach out the color of the flowers.  It likes well-drained, average soil in an area with average rainfall (20+”) for optimal growth.  Kerria is hardy in zones 4-9.

The bright green stems bring some cheer in winter months and the flowers arrive in mid-spring and it may rebloom during the summer.  If you need to prune it, the time to do that is after the flowers are done.  Kerria will grow to be 6-8’ tall and wide but you can tame it for a smaller area.  In fact, an occasional pruning is about the only thing this plant needs to remain healthy.  It can do well without fertilizer and both insects and deer pass it by.

You can grow more of these lovely plants by rooting cuttings, or from the suckers it sends up.  You can also divide it in the fall if it’s not too large to handle.

The growth is reminiscent of forsythia with its long arching branches, but the flowers last longer and in my opinion, are much prettier!

There are other varieties of kerria with single flowers or variegated foliage but this is certainly my favorite.  Be sure to check it out.