Q: I think mahonia is a beautiful, colorful, and interesting plant!
A: The unique foliage and bright yellow flowers in early spring certainly make this a distinctive plant. Spikes of blue berries follow the flowers. Some gardeners don’t like mahonia because of its propensity to be spread by birds, but if it makes you happy, I say enjoy it! The mahonia we see most often in Atlanta is Mahonia bealei, leatherleaf mahonia. It is native to Europe. Mahonia aquifolium, Oregon grape holly, is a smaller-leafed shrub that is native to the United States. If a gardener doesn’t like the menacing, spiky leaves of either of these two shrubs, ‘Soft Caress’ mahonia, Mahonia eurybracteata, has narrow, flexible leaves. Like the other two, it grows very well in shade. It was bred by Atlanta’s Ozzie Johnson and was patented by local ItSaul Nursery.