Sun exposure:
Full shade, partial shade
Position in border:
Back, middle


Acidic / Chalky / Alkaline / Clay / Heavy / Moist / Well Drained / Light / Sandy

Mahonias are grown for their attractive foliage and fragrant, showy winter flowers. They provide an invaluable source of pollen and nectar for winter colonies of bumblebees and other pollinators.

Mahonia japonica bears racemes of lemon-yellow flowers from late autumn to early spring with a sweet lily-of-the-valley fragrance. It has received the coveted RHS Award of Garden Merit.

How to grow Mahonia japonica

For best results, grow Mahonia japonica in fertile, moist but well-drained soil in partial or full shade. It is suitable for a wide variety of planting positions, including slopes and banks.

Mahonia japonica originates from Taiwan. Although some mahonias are listed as invasive species in areas such as the southeastern United States, Mahonia japonica is not considered invasive in the UK.

How to care for Mahonia japonica

Mahonia japonica requires little attention once it has become established. Plants are generally problem-free but it is worth checking regularly for rust and powdery mildew. Mulch around the base of plants in early autumn to reduce weed cover and protect the roots from cold weather in the winter.

Plants should be pruned, if needed, in spring after flowering. Prune back old stems that are bare at the base to strong low growth. Cut out any damaged, diseased or dead material. Neglected plants will usually respond well to hard pruning and stems should be cut back to around 15cm from the ground. Wear gloves and other protective equipment when pruning.

Advice on buying Mahonia japonica

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  • Ensure you have sufficient space in a sheltered spot
  • Always check plants for signs of pests and disease before buying
  • Soak roots well before planting

Where to buy Mahonia japonica

Plant calendar


Mahonia and wildlife

Mahonia is known for attracting bees and birds. It has nectar/pollen rich flowers and has seeds for birds.

Is known to attract Bees
Is not known to attract Beneficial insects
Beneficial insects
Is known to attract Birds
Is not known to attract Butterflies/​Moths
Is not known to attract Other pollinators
Other pollinators

Is Mahonia poisonous?

Mahonia has no toxic effects reported.

No reported toxicity to:
Is not known to attract Birds
Is not known to attract Cats
Is not known to attract Dogs
Is not known to attract Horses
Is not known to attract Livestock
Is not known to attract People
Plants that go well with Mahonia japonica