Kerria japonica aka Japanese Kerria

Mar 19, 2021 | Love This!

Name: Kerria japonica aka Japanese Kerria

Type of Plant: This is a shrub with bright green stems and bright yellow flowers that is hardy in Zones 4-9. In most areas this plant grows to about 5 feet tall and 8 feet wide. Some have single flowers, but ‘Pleniflora’ is a double-flowered variety that is especially popular and easy to find.

Why I Love/Hate this plant: I love this plant because it grows in part sun to full shade. The deer don’t eat it, and it grows well in a variety of soil conditions. I also love the arching stems that are bright green in the winter, adding color and an almost grass-like appearance during the cold season. But of course, it’s the cheerful, yellow flowers that really charm me. I’ve heard people compare them to marigolds.

A Word to the Wise: This is a suckering shrub, meaning it spreads by creating new stems to all sides, similar to the blue hydrangea. Plant it where it has room to spread out, but once it’s as large as you want it, prune out these side stems by cutting them to the ground at any time during the year. If you don’t like plants that travel, this is not the shrub for you.

The only way to prune this plant is to take off dead canes, and remove those that are spreading out too far at ground level. This is a plant that should never be sheared! In other words, don’t make this into a green meatball…its fountain shape is one of the things that makes it a beautiful plant.

This photo shows how Kerria japonica grows wider than it is tall. You can imagine that “shaping” this by shearing would ruin it!

Kerria blooms heavily in the spring. Sometimes it will produce a few random flowers later in the summer or early fall. Note that when this plant is in full sun, the flowers can bleach out, so provide it with shade, especially in the mid-day.

I also love the bright green leaves on Kerria japonica. Even when the plant isn’t in flower, the texture and color of the foliage is a good combination with blue hydrangeas.



  1. Nancy Karsberg

    I love kerria japonica! I used to see it around, but apparently everyone got tired of fighting it and eliminated it from their yards. Thank you for letting me know someone else shares my view.

    • CL Fornari

      There will always be people who are more interested in plants that don’t get “out of control” than plants that bring something different to the party. You and I go for “party on” while others want restraint. Go figure.

    • Marilyn

      I have one from a cutting in my Mother’s back yard. She got it from a Japanese woman who’s back yard and my mother’s backed up to. It does get out of control and my husband keeps cutting it back. By doing so he has cut all the next years flowers off.

      • CL Fornari

        Bribe him not to cut it back?

  2. Carole Young-Kleinfeld

    Last summer I looked for a kerria joponica at several Cape garden centers with no luck. Is it something I should place a special order for .or did I just have bad timing. Any suggestions?

    • CL Fornari

      Keep trying. Stock comes and goes – garden centers get in what the growers have available.

  3. Brian Flannery

    I have been trying to find this ‘old style’ Japanese Kerria but can’t find it any where. Any suggestions?


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