Mahonia 'Volcano' – a colourful step forward in hardy winter shrubs

The exciting developments in mahonia breeding continue with a brand new colour

The award of RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year to Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ back in 2013, especially impressive when we had to take its autumn flowering on trust, has inspired some fine developments in these essential autumn and winter plants. Now we have a new colour, and no spines.

Mahonia Volcano (‘MYOY’)‘Soft Caress’, as the name implies, gave us a finger-friendly foliage and now we have the same evergreen spine-free feel but with flowers in a new colour: Mahonia Volcano (‘MYOY’)

I asked Peter van Rijssen, New Plant Manager at Plantipp, who are marketing the plant to British growers, to tell me about it.

“In spring, the new shoots are bronze,” he told me, “then the mature leaves are silvery green, fine and soft to touch, and without sharp spine-toothed edges of so many mahonias. Volcano flowers early, from October to November, with yellow flowers opening from coppery orange buds.

“Volcano’ is compact, reaching about 1m high and wide and will thrive in the sun or semi-shade in an average, rich, well-drained soil.”

The combination of coppery red buds and genuinely golden flowers brings new tones to the autumn garden. It has proved hardy to -15°C.

Mahonia Volcano (‘MYOY’) was developed by Japanese plant breeder Seiju Yamaguchi, perhaps better known for his work with magnolias. Selected in 2013 it appears to be a hybrid between M. gracilipes and M. eurybractea but the breeder cannot confirm that.

Plant hunter Barry Yinger, in a 2011 note in the Journal of the Magnolia Society International, reports that Seiju Yamaguchi single-handedly organized a movement to preserve important Japanese native stands of Magnolia stellata: “Most remarkably,” he continues, “he forced the Toyota Motor Company to abandon its plan to develop the area into a vacation resort for its employees. In those days it was unheard of that an industrial giant in Japan would bow to public pressure to change its plans to preserve nature.”

Look out soon for another new mahonia developed by Yamaguchi, one that flowers in both spring and autumn.

Mahonia Volcano (‘MYOY’) is available from the RHS Plant Shop.
*Please note, the contents of this blog reflect the views of its author and do not constitute an official endorsement by the RHS.

Get involved

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.