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I have a fairly small garden and my main objective is to make it as bee and wildlife friendly as possible. I know that Mahonias are great sources of early nectar for bees and would love to grow one for that reason alone (not actually a huge lover of it otherwise, though the scent and evergreen structure are valuable ). However due to lack of a suitable space for it I was wondering whether it might be possible to grow one in a large pot.
I know that they don't really need pruning but would pruning actually harm it and when/how would I prune? Thanks!
You can prune back after they've finished flowering but if you don't reallly like them and can place your pot against a sheltering wall, why not grow Winter Sweet instead. It has pretty, perfumed flowers through winter so shoud be very good for any insects that are about - http://www.telegraph.co.uk/gardening/howtogrow/3297316/How-to-grow-wintersweet.html
That is a lovely plant but my garden is not very well sheltered and is a rather shady North- facing, so I doubt it would be happy with us. That's another reason for the Mahonia choice: good in shade and pretty tough. Thanks, though! I will remember that one if we ever move to a bigger place.