A 2-foot-high evergreen shrub native to the woods and woodland edges of the Pacific Northwest, mahonia gives a shady area three seasons of interest. Erect racemes covered with clear yellow flowers rise from the plant’s leaf axils or from the main stem tip in spring. In contrast to these upright blooms are long, elegant, compound leaves made up of leaflets with spiny edges. In fall, some leaves turn a lovely wine-red. During summer, clusters of berries mature to dark blue with a powdery whitish coating.
Noteworthy CharacteristicsSpreads very slowly by stolons. Three seasons of interest. Grows in shade.
CareGrows very slowly by stolons, so plant close to the density you want to achieve. Needs slightly acidic soil rich in organic matter and shelter from severe weather, especially desiccating winter winds. Does not tolerate soggy conditions, but thrives in dry shade once established.
PropagationSow seed outdoors in autumn or as soon as ripe, stratifying them to enhance germination rates. Root semi-ripe or leaf-bud cuttings from late summer to autumn.
ProblemsRust, leaf spots, galls, scale insects, and whiteflies can be problems.
- Genus : Mahonia
- Plant Height : 1 to 3 feet
- Plant Width : 1 to 3 feet
- Zones : 6, 7, 8
- Moisture : Medium Moisture
- Maintenance : Moderate
- Light : Partial Shade to Full Shade
- Characteristics : Showy Foliage, Showy Fruit
- Plant Type : Shrubs
- Growth Rate : Slow
- Bloom Time : Spring
- Plant Seasonal Interest : Spring Interest
- Flower Color : Yellow
Plant Characteristics are only available to Fine Gardening members
Sign up for a free trial and get instant access to our complete plant guide as well as our entire collection of articles and videos.