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Soft Caress Mahonia

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$36.98
  • Fern like foliage ranging from pink to blue-green
  • Matures to 3-5' wide by 3' tall
  • Hardy in USDA Zones 7 - 9
  • Plant in full sun to part shade
Pot size

Description

Soft Caress Mahonia (Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress' PP20183) from the Southern Living Plant Collection is a truly exceptional shade plant! Chinese Mahonia was introduced years ago, and provided a solution for shaded gardens everywhere. However, the sharp foliage of the Chinese Mahonia requires gloves or a particularly careful touch, which makes pruning difficult. The "Soft Caress" removes this potentially painful aspect of the Mahonia entirely, with its soft feather-like foliage. The greenery resembles a fern frond type of growth pattern, and sprouts richly colored leaves that can range from light green to a dark blue-green.

Early in Winter, this variety develops brilliant and fragrant yellow flowers that crown the evergreen foliage. Following the blooms are clusters of silver-blue berries that are an unexpected change of pace for this one-of-a-kind, fascinating plant.

It reaches a mature size of 3' H x 3.5' W. Because of its dwarf size, it won't go wild and take over your landscape. Meanwhile, a naturally compact nature will leave pruning completely optional.

Try it in a mass planting in a shaded spot you don't want to worry about maintaining.

Furthermore, it's perfect for Asian-inspired gardens. Otherwise, try it as a short border in a shade garden, or as an accent in a container planter. You really can't go wrong with this Mahonia!

Soft Caress Mahonia Care

Hardy in USDA Zones 7-9, down to 0° Fahrenheit when established.

One of the most attractive aspects of the Soft Caress Mahonia is its ability to thrive in both Part Sun and Part Shade, an unusual feat for most flowering shrubs.

Plant in well-draining acidic soil for best results. Alkaline soils may lead to an iron deficiency and yellowing leaves. Therefore, planting in acidic to neutral soil is important.

Water 2-3 times a week during the first growing season. After your plant has a couple growing seasons under its belt, supplemental watering is only necessary in times of intense heat and drought.

Fertilize in early spring with a balanced, slow-release acidic plant fertilizer.

Recommended Companion Plants for the Soft Caress Mahonia

  • Try this variety with some other shade-friendly plants, like the Everillo Carex and Florida Sunshine Anise. Both of these varieties have bright golden foliage that really brightens up shady spots. The Mountain Snow Pieris also handles shade well and features some gorgeous white bell-shaped blossoms in early spring.
  • For partial shade plantings, consider planting it with some Hydrangeas, such as the Big Daddy Hydrangea or Bloomstruck Hydrangea. Their wide leaves and large rounded blooms contrast beautifully this Mahonia's feathery foliage.

Still looking for inspiration? Check out these Shade Garden Ideas.

Frequently Asked Questions:

"Is Soft Caress Mahonia deer-resistant?"

Traditional Mahonia are very deer resistant because of their thorny nature. The Soft Caress does not have thorns, therefore, it is not as deer resistant. However, it's not a deer's favorite snack. They will likely only nibble at it if other food is scarce.

"Why is my foliage turning yellow?"

  1. Your soil pH may be too high. When this happens, it can create an iron deficiency in your plant because it's unable to absorb nutrients properly. The result is that leaves may turn yellow and fall off over time. Pick up a soil pH test and take a sample from the base of your plant, several inches deep. If it shows up decently over a pH of 7, you should consider supplementing your soil with a soil acidifier, such as elemental sulfur.
  2. Your Mahonia might be getting too much sun. Mahonia can handle some sun very well, in fact, they look great with a couple to a few hours of direct sun. However, they aren't Full Sun plants. If yours are getting too much direct sunlight, they'll fade to a yellow-green to yellow and eventually, the plant might expire. Move them or figure out a way to give them more shade.

"Why isn't my Mahonia flowering?"

Mahonia can bloom from late fall to late winter, depending on the weather you're having and where it's planted. So our first suggestion would be to consider that it hasn't gotten around to it yet, or it may have bloomed already if you recently bought the plant. However, if fall and winter came and went without any flowers, there's likely something else at play. Dehydration is a common cause for a lack of flowers. Ensure that your plant is staying properly hydrated throughout the year. They need water to produce flowers and will often drop their flower buds if they are dehydrated for too long.

Care & Use

Getting Started: Understanding Your New Plant

Review your plant's information on our website or the tag that comes with it. Be mindful of sunlight preferences, soil type, and spacing needs.

Our plants are adaptable but grow best in the correct USDA Zones. Click here to learn more about your USDA Zone.

Planting Instructions

Dig a Hole

First, dig a hole three times the width of the root ball of your plant. This makes it easier for the root system to spread out quickly. Dig the hole deep enough that your plant will sit level with or slightly above the ground around it.

Amend Your Soil

Mix your native soil with rich gardening soil to provide extra nutrients and support plant growth. If your soil is clay-heavy, we recommend mixing your native clay soil with equal parts of Pine Bark mulch to improve drainage and the overall breathability of your soil.

Place Your Plant

Examine the roots. If they appear tightly bound, gently coax them apart; this ensures they can spread into the new soil. Place your plant in the hole so the top of the rootball is even with the surrounding soil—Backfill around it with the amended soil mixture. The roots need access to oxygen for your plant to thrive, so do not cover the rootball; place soil around it.

Mulch Your Plants

Top the soil beneath your plant with 3-4 inches of mulch to help it retain moisture. Be careful not to cover the rootball - your new plants roots need access to oxygen.

Water Your Plant

Soak the plant with a hose afterward to hydrate the plant, as well as get the soil and mulch situated. Develop a regular watering schedule based on your plant's needs and local weather patterns. Remember, over watering is just as, if not more, harmful than under watering.

Spacing Recommendations

For a seamless planting, plant 2-2.5 feet apart. Otherwise, space them 3.5+ feet apart for space between plantings.

  • Scientific Name
    Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress' PP20183
  • Hardiness Zone
    7, 8, 9
  • Sun Exposure
    Part Sun to Part Shade
  • Evergreen or Deciduous
    Evergreen
  • Features
    Dwarf, Flowering, Shade Tolerant
  • Feature Color
    Green, Yellow
  • Uses
    Accent, Container, Mass Planting
  • Water Needs
    Medium
  • Bloom Season
    Winter

Growing Zones : 7, 8, and 9

Map of USDA Zones 7-9
Southern Living Plant Collection Nandinas planted in a container with heucherella in front of a fireplace

Southern Living Plants

A collection of shrubs, trees, and perennials selected by plant experts to thrive in the heat of the South. Find traditional varieties like camellias mixed with new landscape favorites like agapanthus. These varieties have been bred to tackle landscape challenges specific to the region.

2 Gallon Soft Caress Mahonia with feathery green leaves in a brown Southern Living Plant Collection pot on a white background
Southern Living Plant Collection

Soft Caress Mahonia

From $19.98

Soft Caress Mahonia (Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress' PP20183) from the Southern Living Plant Collection is a truly exceptional shade plant! Chinese Mahonia was introduced years ago, and provided a solution for shaded gardens everywhere. However, the sharp foliage of the Chinese Mahonia requires gloves or a particularly careful touch, which makes pruning difficult. The "Soft Caress" removes this potentially painful aspect of the Mahonia entirely, with its soft feather-like foliage. The greenery resembles a fern frond type of growth pattern, and sprouts richly colored leaves that can range from light green to a dark blue-green.

Early in Winter, this variety develops brilliant and fragrant yellow flowers that crown the evergreen foliage. Following the blooms are clusters of silver-blue berries that are an unexpected change of pace for this one-of-a-kind, fascinating plant.

It reaches a mature size of 3' H x 3.5' W. Because of its dwarf size, it won't go wild and take over your landscape. Meanwhile, a naturally compact nature will leave pruning completely optional.

Try it in a mass planting in a shaded spot you don't want to worry about maintaining.

Furthermore, it's perfect for Asian-inspired gardens. Otherwise, try it as a short border in a shade garden, or as an accent in a container planter. You really can't go wrong with this Mahonia!

Soft Caress Mahonia Care

Hardy in USDA Zones 7-9, down to 0° Fahrenheit when established.

One of the most attractive aspects of the Soft Caress Mahonia is its ability to thrive in both Part Sun and Part Shade, an unusual feat for most flowering shrubs.

Plant in well-draining acidic soil for best results. Alkaline soils may lead to an iron deficiency and yellowing leaves. Therefore, planting in acidic to neutral soil is important.

Water 2-3 times a week during the first growing season. After your plant has a couple growing seasons under its belt, supplemental watering is only necessary in times of intense heat and drought.

Fertilize in early spring with a balanced, slow-release acidic plant fertilizer.

Recommended Companion Plants for the Soft Caress Mahonia

Still looking for inspiration? Check out these Shade Garden Ideas.

Frequently Asked Questions:

"Is Soft Caress Mahonia deer-resistant?"

Traditional Mahonia are very deer resistant because of their thorny nature. The Soft Caress does not have thorns, therefore, it is not as deer resistant. However, it's not a deer's favorite snack. They will likely only nibble at it if other food is scarce.

"Why is my foliage turning yellow?"

  1. Your soil pH may be too high. When this happens, it can create an iron deficiency in your plant because it's unable to absorb nutrients properly. The result is that leaves may turn yellow and fall off over time. Pick up a soil pH test and take a sample from the base of your plant, several inches deep. If it shows up decently over a pH of 7, you should consider supplementing your soil with a soil acidifier, such as elemental sulfur.
  2. Your Mahonia might be getting too much sun. Mahonia can handle some sun very well, in fact, they look great with a couple to a few hours of direct sun. However, they aren't Full Sun plants. If yours are getting too much direct sunlight, they'll fade to a yellow-green to yellow and eventually, the plant might expire. Move them or figure out a way to give them more shade.

"Why isn't my Mahonia flowering?"

Mahonia can bloom from late fall to late winter, depending on the weather you're having and where it's planted. So our first suggestion would be to consider that it hasn't gotten around to it yet, or it may have bloomed already if you recently bought the plant. However, if fall and winter came and went without any flowers, there's likely something else at play. Dehydration is a common cause for a lack of flowers. Ensure that your plant is staying properly hydrated throughout the year. They need water to produce flowers and will often drop their flower buds if they are dehydrated for too long.

Pot size

  • 2.5 Quart
  • 2 Gallon
  • 3 Gallon
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