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MAHONIA FOR THE UK GARDENER


Mahonia are evergreen shrubs and most, but not all, are fully hardy in the UK tolerating cold as far down as -15°C. The more common varieties such as Mahonia media 'Charity' grow to a height and spread of 2m / 6ft but there are smaller varieties, some even being described as ground cover. Sometimes called Oregon Grape. Yellow flowers are produced in November to February / March often followed by black berries.

They do have some very specific requirements so consult the list below to see if they are correct for you and your garden conditions:

Berries on a Mahonia shrub

HOW TO CARE FOR A MAHONIA


Mahonias are very low maintenance shrubs but a small amount of attention will ensure that they perform to the best of their abilities. The following care plan will help them do just that:

Mahonia in flower

PRUNING MAHONIA


An annual prune will do your Mahonia a power of good. It will keep the plant to a reasonable size prevent crowding the centre.

MAHONIA PESTS AND DISEASES


Mahonia are very healthy plants but they do suffer from a few diseases in particular.

MAHONIA RUST


All varieties of Mahonia can be affected by rust but Mahonia aquifolium an bealei are the worst affected. The Latin name for this fungus is Cumminsiella mirabilissima. The symptoms are deep red small marks on the top of the leaves. If you turn the leaves over they will have brown, rust coloured powdery marks on them.

Rust spreads in humid conditions where there is little ventilation. Treatment of rust on Mahonia consists of the following:

POWDERY MILDEW ON MAHONIAS


The symptoms are irregular brown marks on the tops of the leaves, with a light grey fungal growth on the undersides of the leaves. Lower leaves are more affected compared to leaves higher up the plant. This is caused by a fungus The causes are cold soil, bad air circulation and damp conditions. The only cure is to avoid those conditions. You may need to move your plant to a sunnier position. Eventually the disease will kill your Mahonia if not attended to. Read our in depth article on powdery mildew for much more information.

Other "easy-care" shrubs in this series include Choisya, Skimmia, Mock Orange, Lilacs, Potentilla and Rose of Sharon (hibiscus syriacus).

DIFFERENT VARIETIES OF MAHONIA


There are many varieties of Mahonia grown in the UK but only about four are commonly sold in garden centres.

Mahonia x media 'Charity'



Height and spread 4.5m / 14ft
Leaf colour Glossy green, evergreen
Flowers? Yellow flowers produced in November to February followed by black berries
Growth Habit Upright and bushy
Frost Hardy? Hardy in the UK
Containers and rockeries No
Awards None


Mahonia x media 'Wintersun'


Height and spread 3m / 10ft
Leaf colour Glossy green, evergreen
Flowers? Yellow flowers with a delicious scent from November to March then black berries. The best flowers of the lot!
Growth Habit Upright and bushy
Frost Hardy? Hardy in the UK, copes well even in sun
Containers and rockeries No
Awards RHS AGM


Mahonia aquifolium


Height and spread 1.5m / 5ft
Leaf colour Light green tinged with reds, evergreen
Flowers? Dense yellow flowers in November to February
Growth Habit Upright and bushy, excellent as a specimen plant for smaller gardens
Frost Hardy? Hardy in the UK.
Containers and rockeries No
Awards None



Mahonia japonica


Height and spread 1.5m / 5ft
Leaf colour Dark green leaves, evergreen
Flowers? yellow flowers from November to February
Growth Habit Upright and bushy
Frost Hardy? Hardy in most parts of the UK.
Containers and rockeries No
Awards RHS AGM
 

MAHONIA SUMMARY


Below we list the key strengths and weaknesses of Mahonias.
 
HARDY 4 star hardiness rating(to -15°C)
   
CLAY SOIL Yes 
SANDY SOIL  Yes 
   
DRY SOIL No
   
SHADE  Yes
   
EVERGREEN  Yes
   
EASY CARE 4.5 easy care rating
SMALL GARDENS  Some varieties
   
POT / CONTAINER No
   
FLOWERING  4 star flowering rating
   
FLOWER TIME November to February