Growing Mahonia Aquifolium

Mahonia is a plant genus comprising several dozen species of shrubs that are native to Asia and North America. One species that is particularly popular among gardeners and landscapers is Mahonia aquifolium. This evergreen shrub is commonly known as the Oregon grape. It grows about 5 feet in height and spreads about 3 feet in width. Its foliage consists of dark green elliptical leaves that change color during the winter. The bright yellow flowers and green berries add to the appeal of this plant. It’s an ideal plant for foundations or walkways.

There are several things to consider when planting and growing the Oregon grape. The condition of the soil, the climate, and certain pests or diseases can affect the health of Mahonia aquifolium.


For optimum growing conditions, it is recommended to plant this shrub in hardiness zones 5 to 8. It prefers partial sunlight or full shade.

Soil Conditions

The best type of soil for the Oregon grape is well-draining soil that is slightly acidic in pH. It is also important that the soil is relatively fertile.

Watering and Fertilizers

To promote growth and development of this shrub, it is recommended to water it regularly. Moist soil is far more conducive to growth than dry soil when it comes to the Oregon grape. With the right soil and water, this plant will grow fine without the use of fertilizers.


There are three ways to propagate this shrub. Sowing seeds is one way. Another option is to take cuttings of the stem and planting them in a nutrient medium. The third method involves dividing the plant and re-planting the individual portions.

Pests and Diseases

No significant damage from pests or diseases. The flowers do attract bees. If planted in alkaline soil, the leaves may not produce enough chlorophyll, which can lead to discolored leaves. Winter-burning is another way the color of the leaves may change.

Mahonia aquifolium – Horticulture & Crop Science at The Ohio State University
Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon grape) – Shoot Gardening

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