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Grape Holly

Mahonia

Native to western North America, grape holly is a broadleaf evergreen shrub that will grow wonderfully in the shadier spots of your garden. Grape holly displays its new foliage in an alluring red color and has wonderfully fragrant yellow flowers in spring. These fragrant flowers then give way to blue-black berries that are quite attractive. The berries from grape holly are edible and are actually quite tart. These berries are often used to make jams, jellies, and preserves. Grape hollies can be very useful in drawing wildlife to your garden, oftentimes attracting butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and many other species of birds, as they are drawn to the fruit and flowers of this lovely plant.

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Light:

Part Sun, Shade

Type:

Height:

From 6 inches to 8 feet

Width:

To 10 feet wide

Foliage Color:

Zones:

6-9

Propagation

Colors of Grape Holly

Grape hollies provide many different colors throughout the growing season. As new leaves emerge in the spring, they are red tinted and mature to a shiny dark green in summer. Some varieties have a beautiful blue green foliage. Foliage will begin to change from the dark green to a purplish color in fall and by winter grape holly will be a lovely burgundy-bronze color. The flowers of grape holly bloom around April and are a spectacular bright yellow color with a pleasing fragrance. The flowers are followed by edible berries that will be a blue-black color in the early fall. These berry clusters resemble small clusters of grapes.

See more of our favorite flowering shrubs here.

How to Grow Grape Holly

Grape hollies work wonderfully when planted in small clusters, they can also be used as shrub borders, foundation plantings, and work equally well when planted in either woodland or shade gardens. Grape holly is a quick growing shrub that can be useful as a privacy screen or native fence; be prepared, this quick growing tendency can also create a somewhat invasive plant. Be certain to check with local authorities to verify if grape holly is a problem plant in your area. Grape hollies will prefer an area of your garden that is sheltered from the wind, the evergreen leaves may dry out in winter if the plant faces too much sun and wind.

Pruning your grape holly can also help to control their spread, they are quite tolerant of pruning and can be cut down all the way to the ground if a fresh starts is needed. Pruning should be done in early summer once the shrub has finished blooming. Typically they will not need much trimming unless they are spreading too much for your liking. Some varieties can also spread by runners and may form thickets with time.

Learn how to prune shrubs here.

Grape holly will grow best in moist soils with good drainage. The best soils for grape hollies are soils that are acidic or neutral, as alkaline soils can be problematic for this plant. Grape holly can be propagated through seed, cuttings, and dividing existing plants. Grape hollies prefer part shade to full shade areas of the garden. If they are planted in too much sun the leaves may scorch, especially during the winter as many varieties are semi-evergreen to evergreen in nature.  

More Varieties of Grape Holly

Chinese grape holly

Mahonia lomariifolia makes a bold statement in the landscape. Growing 6-12 feet tall, Chinese grape holly features spiny, glossy green leaves that form a backdrop for small yellow flowers in winter. Zones 7-10.

Leatherleaf grape holly

This variety of Mahonia japonica ('Bealei') bears blue-green leaves and blooms later than most in spring. It grows 6 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Zones 7-8.

Mahonia eurybracteata

Mahonia eurybracteata shows off finely divided, glossy green leaves. Yellow flowers appear late in the season and are followed by clusters of blue-black berries. It grows 4 feet tall and wide. Zones 7-10.

Mahonia japonica

Mahonia japonica is upright evergreen shrub with dark green leaves and pale yellow flowers from fall to spring, with clusters of pale blue berries. It grows 6 feet tall and 10 feet wide. Zones 7-8.

Oregon grape holly

Mahonia aquifolium has a open habit and grows 3 feet tall and 5 feet wide. It develops medium-green spiny leaflets and spikes of yellow flowers. Zones 6-9.

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