Plant Profile: MahoniaOctober 24, 2014
Setting out to profile something as big as the Mahonia genus in a single blog post is pretty much impossible. But, by focusing on its virtues rather than bemoaning its various prickly traits, we can probably convince you to fall in love with this often despised plant.
Oh, and yes, there is at least one Mahonia that won’t poke you, but we’ll get to that a little later…
To begin, a bit about the genus’ greatness:
- Pollinator feed: Many Mahonia bloom during the dead of winter, when hummingbirds and other over-wintering wildlife desperately need forage.
- Winter Interest: Those bright yellow flowers burst forth in winter, which is great to ease our visual doldrums. But, before and after those blooms, these plants are evergreen, which is critical to keeping your garden looking great when perennials are hiding underground and deciduous trees are bare.
- Privacy & Protection: Taller plants in the genus may take a while to reach great heights, but when they do, they provide a bit of privacy even in tighter spaces. Plus, the spiny Mahonia leaves might just tell intruders that yours isn’t a window worth breaking.
- Edible: Mahonia isn’t called Oregon Grape just because the berries look like grapes. In fact, those berries are edible, with a few possible exceptions. Theirs may not be the tastiest berry you’ll grow, but odds are fruit-eating songbirds and other wildlife will pick them clean fast. Plus, their berries are just plain pretty!
- Native: There are any number of Mahonia native to many parts of the United States. Just double-check before you put one in. Some may be naturalized, rather than native to your area. And, some may be very aggressive spreaders (native or not).
Now, let’s look at some eye-candy at different times of year and on different varieties of the genus:
So if you think Mahonia still means plain ole green, spiny foliage with bursts of yellow blooms in winter, get ready to think again. Even though they are Berberis (read: Barberry), there’s more than one surprise coming…
If you’re ready to add Mahonia to your garden, get in touch for ordering information today.