Easily taken for granted, these tough, spiny-leaved evergreen shrubs have a number of garden uses. Some are good for covering the ground while others are imposing subjects for the back of a border.
With shiny leaves, these boldly upright, squat or spreading shrubs have impressive clusters or spikes of fragrant, bright yellow flowers in winter to early spring, followed by juicy-looking purple to black berries in autumn.
Moist soils that drain well are suitable, preferably in light shade, though full sun and deep shade are tolerated.
Larger types dislike exposure to cold winds, which can scorch the foliage.
Did you know?
Tall mahonias that become bare at the base are easily restored by cutting back the stems to about 15cm (6in) from the ground in late winter to early spring.
Seasonal planting inspiration
The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.