Mahonia repens

Mini Mahonia

by Andrew Keys on February 29, 2012

On my to do list this spring: start edging my beds with creeping mahonia (Mahonia repens). This is what it looks like in winter.

I’m thinking year-round interest would be a bit nicer than most of my other edgers, which are herbaceous, especially Nepeta–a huge presence one season, completely gone the next. Seasonality is important, but I’m ready for an edger that’s a little more visually present all year long, and I’ve had my eye on this western native for a while. It grows wild from Texas all the way up to Minnesota, and west to the Pacific.

You may know mahonias as big, spiky, oddly formed creatures. (I love those too!) At less than a foot tall, this one is the runt of the litter. Like many a runt, however, it grows into something great.

Hardiness: Zones 5-8
Best features: Glossy evergreen foliage, yellow spring flowers, blue berries in late summer, drought tolerance
Likes: Most any old spot, sun or shade
Comes from: Western North America
Sources: Forestfarm, Burnt Ridge Nursery, Greer Gardens, Joy Creek Nursery

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