Oregon Grapeholly ( Mahonia aquifolium )

I first encountered this plant on a garden tour during last years Garden Blogger’s Spring Fling. By the time I came home and sorted through everything I had totally forgotten its name.

Then this year I found one for sale at the Mercer March Mart. Mine doesn’t have flowers yet, but I managed to steal a photo of this one while on a local garden tour.

Yellow flowers appear in the spring, followed by blue-black berries.

Mahonia grows more upright than out and can reach 6′ tall and 4′ wide. Plant in shade to part shade, but you’ll need some sun on the plant if you want the blooms. Morning sun is best.

Moist well drained soils are recommended. Drought tolerant once it is settled in. Acidic soils are preferred to alkaline.

Protect from wind to prevent leaf scorch in dry weather. This plant does well through zone 7 so no winter protection is required here.

Mahonia ( Barberry ) lopers ( black with a light stripe and orange headed caterpillars ) will eat this plant. Female moths lay eggs in spring, larvae eat the leaves when hatched.

Rust can also be a problem, it appears are red specks on the leaves. There may be a yellowish powder on underside of leaves. Remove affected branches.

Native of China.

Propagation: Stem cuttings, dip in rooting hormone and plant, keep moist but not wet till new leaves appear. The older the wood for the cutting, the better these plants will root. Mahonias also root better in warm weather so keep your cutting warm.

Leather leaf Mahonia bealei is very similar except flowers are scented.

Note: survived below freezing temps winter 2011, and 3 months 100’F plus days and drought of summer 2011