Gardening Magazine

Plant of the Week: Mahonia x Media ‘Winter Sun’

By Davis Landscape Architecture @DavisLandArch

Mahonia x media 'Winter Sun' (20/10/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ (20/10/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Position: Partial shade to full shade

Flowering period: Autumn to early spring

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 3m

Eventual Spread: 2m

Hardiness: 7a – 9b

Family: Berberidaceae

Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ is an evergreen, shrub with a dense upright habit . Its dark green, leathery leaves are pinnate and composed of up to 19 leaflets. Its leaflets are opposite, very spiky and up to 10cm long. Its fragrant bright yellow flowers are borne in erect racemes. Its blue/ black fruit follow the flowers in the form of berries.

The parent plant Mahonia x media, commonly known as Oregon Grape, is a cross of Mahonia japonica and Mahonia lomariifolia. Both its parents are native to Japan and China. Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ was selected at Slieve Donard Nursery in Ireland in 1966, its flowers are more fragrant and habit more compact than other Mahonia x media cultivars.

The etymological root of the binomial name Mahonia was named by Thomas Nuttall after an Irish political refugee, Bernard M’Mahon. Media is derived from the Latin medium meaning ‘middle’, in reference to this plant being a cross.

The landscape architect may find Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ useful in shady locations including woodland planting schemes. Once established this shrub is drought tolerant. This shrub is not attractive to deer.

Ecologically, Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ flowers are attractive to pollinating  insects. Its berries are eaten by birds.

The Royal Horticultural Society has given Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ their prestigious Award of Garden Merit in 1993.

Mahonia x media 'Winter Sun' (20/10/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ (20/10/2012, Kew Gardens, London)

Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ prefers moist, humus rich, well-drained soils. It tolerates most pH of soil.

Mahonia x media ‘Winter Sun’ requires little maintenance. Some stems may be removed in May to encourage bushy habit, suckers may be removed at the same time.


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