Plant of the Month

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This west coast native is a perfect choice for a drought-tolerant, shade tolerant evergreen shrub for southwest gardens. Blue, grape-like berries in summer attract songbirds, and make tasty jams and jellies for humans when cooked.

Oregon Grape, Holly-leaved Barberry
Mahonia aquifolium

  • Plant Form: Evergreen Shrub
  • Water Use: Low
  • Mature Size: 3-6 ft. tall x 3-7 ft. wide
  • Exposure: Part Sun, Filtered Sun, Full Shade
  • Bloom Time: Spring (Mar-May)
  • Native to: California, Oregon, Washington, Canada
  • Hardiness: Cold hardy to -10°F 

Oregon Grape offers a brilliant solution to a landscape dilemma: finding a drought-tolerant plant that can live in full shade in southwest deserts. This easy-care, evergreen shrub is excellent in dry shade or part shade as a single, colorful accent, or in mass plantings as a hedge or screen. Also called Holly-leaved Barberry, this native of Canada and the Northwest U.S. has bright, fragrant, yellow flowers in spring, followed by lovely blue, grape-like berries in summer. The spiny foliage yields extra drama as new leaves emerge with bronze-red colors, turning purplish-red in winter. In our region, can be used hedge-style against shaded walls and fences, or freestanding as a hedge or screen if sheltered from harsh sun and drying winds. Both rabbit- and deer-resistant, Oregon Grape is useful for borders, containers, hiding water valves, and in fire-wise and wildlife gardens. Birds and wildlife love the berries; to humans, the berries are not tasty when fresh, but are great in jams and jellies.

Check out our  “Garden Tasks” for January