Japanese Kerria (Kerria japonica)

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Plant Details

Category: Nursery
Light: Sun to Part Shade
Bloom Season: Spring
Height: 3-6' / 
Space: 6-9' / 
Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Lowest Temp: -30° to -20°F / 
-34° to -29°C
Colors: Yellow

Basic Care

Very easy to grow in virtually any location. Best in fertile, well-drained soil. Water regularly until established. Prune or trim after plant has bloomed.


Water regularly until established.


Fertile, well-drained soil.


Slow release feed in spring.


Kerria is a wispy, narrow-stemmed shrub native to Japan and China that displays a profusion of bright yellow blooms each spring. It works well as a companion to other spring blooming shrubs and perennials and as a backdrop for summer blooming plants.


A great choice for foundation plantings or hedges. Beautiful grouped or massed in a shrub border. Looks great in woodland settings.

Japanese Kerria (Kerria japonica) Care Guide

Plant in spring or early fall to give plants the best start.

Choose a location that will allow roots to spread and branches to grow freely. Space plants far enough from building foundations, walls, and decks so that the growing foliage won’t crowd the structure. Consider whether tall trees or shrubs will block windows or interfere with the roof or power lines.

To prepare the planting area dig a hole as deep as the root ball and three times as wide. After removing the soil, mix it with some compost or peat moss. This enriches the soil and loosens the existing dirt so that new roots can spread easily.

To remove the plant from the container, gently brace the base of the plant, tip it sideways and tap the outside of the pot to loosen. Rotate the container and continue to tap, loosening the soil until the plant pulls smoothly from the pot. The container can also be removed by carefully cutting it down the side.

Set the plant in the hole. If the root ball is wrapped in burlap fabric this must now be removed along with any string or wire securing the burlap. If roots are tightly packed gently rake them apart with your fingers.

Return the soil to the planting area packing it firmly around the root ball. Fill the hole until the soil line is just at the base of the plant, where the roots begin to flare out from the main stem.

Water the plant well then add a 2” (5cm) layer of mulch, such as shredded bark, around the planting area. Keep the mulch at least 4” (10cm) away from the trunk of the plant as this can keep the bark too moist and cause it to decay.

Depending on rainfall, new plants need to be watered weekly through the first growing season. A slow, one-hour trickle of water should do the job. During hot spells thoroughly soaking the ground up to 8” (20 cm) every few days is better than watering a little bit daily. Deep watering encourages roots to grow further into the ground resulting in a sturdier plant with more drought tolerance.

To check for soil moisture use your finger or a hand trowel to dig a small hole and examine the soil. If the first 2-4” (5-10cm) of soil is dry, it is time to water.

Monitor new plants through the first two years to make sure they are getting the moisture they need. After that they should be sturdy enough to survive on their own.

Pruning may be needed to remove dead branches, encourage bushier growth, promote more flowers, or maintain a specific size or shape.

Dead branches should be removed close to the trunk, flush with the bark. When pruning to control a plant’s size or shape, cuts should be made just above a leaf bud and at a slight angle. This bud will be where the new growth sprouts.

Many shrubs can be regularly sheared to keep them shaped as a hedge, edging or formal foundation planting.

Always use sharp, clean tools when pruning. There are many tools available depending on the job. Hand shears, pruners, and loppers are ideal for most shrubs. Pole pruners and tree saws are better for large, mature shrubs or trees. If a tree is so large that it can’t be safely pruned with a pole pruner, it is best to call in a professional tree service.

Established trees should be fertilized every 2-3 years. Feed in early spring when plants start growing.

Fertilizers are available in many forms: granulated, slow-release, liquid feeds, organic or synthetic. Determine which application method is best for the situation and select a product designed for trees and shrubs, or go with a nutritionally balanced, general-purpose formula such as 10-10-10.

Always follow the fertilizer package directions for application rates and scheduling. Over-fertilizing plants or applying at the wrong time during the growing season can result in plant injury.

Companion/Combination Plants


  1. Ms. Margarita R Reynes

    I think a shrub I am growing against my fence is a Japaneese Kerria except the blossoms if/when they appear in spring (I haven’t fertilized) are not as bushy as in your photographs but simpler & single layered.

    The leaves fall off in winter and the stems are yellowish. I think the fact that the soil where it grows is not well draining and a little on the clay-ish side may account for the differences.

    Nonetheless it makes for a great privacy fence and I want to obtain more plantings to cover the length of my fence which borders a busy alleyway.

    Does my description sound accurate fig the shrub named and do you confirm it’s use as a privacy fence. Anything else I should consider before looking for plants to fill in the entire breath of my yard?

    • My Garden Life

      Hi Margarita,
      Kerria are available in single and double-petaled varieties, so you may very well have the single-petaled form. The distinctive, serrated edges of the foliage are a good identifier. If the leaves on your plant look like those in the photo, that probably confirms that you have a single-petaled kerria. By the way, deer tend to leave kerria shrubs alone in case that is an issue for you.

      Regarding plant selection in general, you want to make sure you are selecting shrubs appropriate to the light they will receive. Over a long expanse there can be variations through the day if there are tall trees or buildings nearby. Also, if there are sections where you want full year-round privacy, you should consider evergreen shrubs in those areas.


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