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Soft Caress Mahonia

(31 customer reviews)

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About Soft Caress Mahonia

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.

How to Plant:

  1. First, find an appropriate planting location and stage where your plant(s) will go.
  2. Dig a hole three times as your plant’s root ball.
    • The hole should be deep enough that the plant sits even with or slightly higher than the ground around it. However, dig a shallower hole if your soil has mild drainage problems. Mound the soil up to the base of the plant.
  3. Next, mix your native soil with rich garden soil to provide extra nutrients for your growing plant.
    • Alternatively, if your soil is clay-rich, we recommend mixing in pine bark with your native soil at a ratio of about 1:1.
  4. Place the plant in the hole and fill the hole back with the soil mixture.
  5. Apply 3-4 inches of mulch around the base of your plant to help it retain moisture throughout the year.
  6. Deeply water your new planting to settle the soil and hydrate your plant.

Spacing Your Plants

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

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.

Why Order Plants Online from

It’s our responsibility to ship healthy, quality plants for every order we receive. And we take this responsibility seriously! We carefully select plants that we wouldn’t hesitate to plant in our own gardens. Then, we water them, securely pack them for shipment, and send them on their way to you. All of our plants are shipped in pots with soil, we never ship any plants bare-root. If you aren’t happy with your order when it shows up, give us a call at 1-866-618-5659 or email us at [email protected]. We’ll do whatever we can to make it right.

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Common Name
Soft Caress Mahonia
Scientific Name
Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress' PP20183
, , , , ,
Average Size
3' H x 3.5' W
Bloom Season
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31 reviews for Soft Caress Mahonia

  1. Fred Byerly (verified owner)

    Fast shipping. FedEx fumbled on delivery, but still delivered nice looking plants in good condition.

  2. M D’Agrosa (verified owner)

    Soft Cress Mahonia: The plants arrived in a timely manner. They were very healthy looking and the packaging for shipping was very well done, no soil spillage from the pots. They are planted and putting down roots. I will purchase from Plants By Mail again.

  3. Glenda Holler (verified owner)

    Have not received it yet.

    • Team PBM

      Good morning. FEDEX tracking is showing this as delivered on the 11th. If you did not receive it please contact customer service. 866-618-5659 – Christy

  4. Jean Peters (verified owner)

    This plant arrived in beautiful condition and is now in my front garden. I want to see how it does in this location, and will order more in the spring. It’s in a spot that has filtered sun and seems to be thriving.

  5. Dale Theriot (verified owner)

    Different texture of plant looks great next to Hostas and coral bells and camellias.

  6. Fran Davidson (verified owner)

    Shipped great, fabulous condition when arrived. I can’t wait to plant my new favorite plant. Very happy with company & plant.

    • Team PBM


  7. michael.varga211 (verified owner)

    Beautiful plants!!!!!!!!!! This variety is amazing. Looks like a fern but with flowers! Deer sampled them this winter but moved on.

  8. Peaches (verified owner)

    Beautiful plant that is thriving well in the garden.

  9. L LISA Bobby (verified owner)

    My Mahonia arrived in such perfect shape, it almost didn’t look real. And now it’s full of buds, waiting to open. I could not be happier with my purchase!

  10. Ann Kammerer (verified owner)

    Great looking and healthy upon arrival. Came flowering in late Nov. Can’t wait to see this grow.

  11. candylloyd1610 (verified owner)

    Great looking plant and is doing well in the garden.

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