Low maintenance striking evergreen

Mahonia oiwakensis subsp lomariifolia. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Mahonia oiwakensis subsp lomariifolia. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON
Often grown for its dramatic foliage, Mahonia oiwakensis subsp lomariifolia makes a bold landscape plant.

Previously known as Mahonia lomariifolia and Berberis lomariifolia, this plant is a striking, evergreen shrub from China. The leaves’ resemblance to holly and the bunches of blue berries that appear in winter explain the plant’s common name ‘‘Chinese holly grape’’.

Several narrow stems can grow to a height of 3m-4m with symmetrical rosettes of thick, glossy, dark green leaves forming near stem ends, which look attractive all year long.

From late autumn, upright spikes of small bright yellow flowers appear atop the uppermost leaves. These showy flowers are slightly fragrant and attract bees. The flowers are followed by dangling bunches of attractive blue berries that contrast well against the glossy green foliage. The berries provide great winter interest in the garden and attract birds.

Beware the fierce spiky leaves and plant safely back from path edges away from passers-by. Planted as a hedge it will create an effective spiky barrier.

Mahonia oiwakensis subsp lomariifolia thrives in moist, well-draining soil. Grow in partial shade sheltered from strong winds. It is relatively low maintenance and resistant to pests and diseases.

Simply prune out large stems to maintain its size and encourage new growth.

Propagate via seed or semi hardwood cuttings in summer.

Labelled as Mahonia lomariifolia, this plant is flowering now in the Asian plant collection in the upper garden.

-- Garden Life is produced by Dunedin Botanic Garden. For further information, contact Kyla Mathewson.


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