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An Early Flowering Evergreen - Oregon Grape Holly

An Early Flowering Evergreen - Oregon Grape Holly

low-maintenance garden planting ideas

Evergreens are valuable in the garden. Especially the ones that flower. However, there are only so many that you can use in the colder climate. One that I have been able to use in the plans for my clients is Oregon grape holly (Mahonia aquifolium), which is hardy in the USDA hardiness zones 5 to 8. 

There are many great reasons to plant a Oregon grape holly in your garden:


#1 Striking Flowers with a Long Blooming Period

The flowers of Oregon grape holly are one of the most striking features of this beautiful shrub. They appear in late winter or early spring, typically from February to April, depending on the climate and growing conditions. 

The bright, sunny yellow flowers of Oregon grape holly are small, about 1/2 inch in diameter each, but bloom in dense, abundant clusters at the ends of the branches. 


In addition, the flowers of Oregon grape holly typically last for several weeks in the early spring. As the flowers fade, they are replaced by small, blue-black berries that look nice.


#2 Enjoy Sweet Fragrance

One thing that I’m especially attracted to is the stunning scent of its flowers. The sweet, delicate fragrance has reminiscent of honey or vanilla to me. And I’m not the only one, as the Oregon grape holly is vital for pollinators, too, because of its early flowering.


To experience the scent fully, inhale its wonderful sweet honey aroma in the morning when it is most potent.

#3 Add Interest with Spiky Evergreen Leaves

t’s not just its flowers that make Oregon grape holly attractive. I like the shiny, spiky architectural evergreen leaves too. The leaves have great texture and presence in a layered border. And they are also wonderful along the house wall as they can thrive in various growing conditions as long as they don’t get direct sunlight in winter and when there is still ground frost.

Because it is a shade-loving plant, it pairs well with various other plants, such as ferns, hostas, and other shade-loving woodland perennials.

It is an excellent addition to shadowy front yards and along the walkways, where you can easily enjoy the charming scent in early spring. 

#4 An Easy-to-care-for Flowering Evergreen

Oregon grape holly is generally easy to care for and can thrive in various growing conditions. It prefers a shady location with moist, well-drained soil. It can tolerate a range of growing conditions, including both acidic and alkaline soils, and is generally hardy in USDA zones 5-8. It is native to Oregon to British Columbia.


Oregon grape holly is generally pest and disease-resistant and does not require much maintenance if you don’t let it get sun when the ground is frozen. If that happens, the leaves turn brown and the appearance becomes ragged.

Did I already mention that I found our Oregon grape holly growing in the middle of the Aronia hedge? One early spring, I noticed something peculiar growing inside the still leafless Aronia hedge. I studied it closer and recognized that it was a tiny Mahonia aquifolium seedling from the previous spring. I transplanted it into a better place in our front yard border. It had started growing thanks to the birds that we winter feed in our yard.

How about you? Would you like to add a touch of sunshine to your garden with the beautiful blooms of Oregon grape holly? 



 P.S. Oregon Grape Holly adds sunshine to shady nooks and corners, but you can also use evergreen plants from sun to deep shade to create a year-round structure for your garden. Get my FREE list of Essential Evergreens >>HERE<<.









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