The name mahonia is used to describe a wide range of evergreen shrubs. These shrubs are closely related to the berberis. As evergreens they work well to give the garden year round colour and interest and come in a wide range of varietals but usually have bright yellow or yellow-white flowers followed by blue-black or purplish berries. Leaves are usually spiny and pinnate with a shiny gloss to them.

Growing mahonia:

Mahonia grows well in moist but well drained soil. These shrubs are hardy and tolerant of most soil types. They are perfect for a rather shady spot that it is difficult to know what to do with. Mahonias will mostly prefer to grow in partial shade and will also cope very well with being in full shade. Some varietals are perfect for providing hedging or shelter for an exposed garden.

Mahonia's are very hardy. They will do well throughout the whole year in gardens. Some types of mahonia can grow to around 4m high and 4m wide, though others are much smaller in their mature size and of course it is easy to keep the bush in bounds with a bit of judicious pruning. If you find you do want to prune a little then the best time to do so is in April or May after the risk of frost has passed, immediately after flowering.

These are an excellent low-maintenance plant and you will not have to think about the mahonia throughout the year, making it perfect for a wildlife or relaxed garden for someone without much time, or for someone who wants to focus on other parts of their property. Mahonia is great for a forest garden or woodland setting and is great for placing in shade beneath mature trees.

Propagation of mahonia is through seeds or semi-hardwood cuttings though it is usually easy to find a variety of mahonia shrubs for sale in garden centres and plant nurseries and so most people will not bother growing their own.

Mahonia is a stress-free shrub all round and does not usually suffer from any pests or diseases. Occasionally rust or powdery mildews may be a problem but you will usually find that your mahonia is blissfully trouble free.

Why grow mahonia in the garden?

Mahonia shrubs can be a great solution for an unpromising or very shady space. They can provide year round colour in a dark corner or can even form hedging for security and shelter.

Mahonia berries are edible though not particularly delicious and they can be used in the making of jams and other preserves.

There is ongoing research into the potential medical benefits of different parts of these shrubs.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Mahonia japonica etc.