Mahonia is my favorite non native plant. After the cold wet winter we've had, I'm excited to see the first blooms in our garden, and each year they appear on the Mahonia first.
Mahonia is an evergreen shrubby plant from Asia. Often referred to as Leatherleaf, this plant has tough green leaves with spines.
Bright yellow blooms appear in winter as early as January, but this year the blooms didn't open until March due to our prolonged winter weather. Blue black drupes appear in clusters like grapes in spring, lending the common name of Grape Holly.
Mahonia is very easy to grow in the Southern United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 7-9. This evergreen plant prefers shade and well-drained soil. Bloom is not prevented even in the deepest shade. Very drought tolerant once established, Mahonia is an excellent choice for a dry shade garden.
The growth habit of mahonia makes it a striking architectural feature for foundation planting as well.
Leatherleaf Mahonia is available online from Shady Gardens Nursery.