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Leather Leaf Mahonia

Mahonia Bealei

Leather Leaf Mahonia


This slow growing plant is an attention-getting specimen wherever it is used. With spikes of yellow, slightly fragrant flowers, glossy, grey green leaves, and attractive multiple stems, Leatherleaf Mahonia has potential for many uses in the shady landscape. The stiff, hard, leathery leaflets have sharp marginal spines, giving the plant a holly-like appearance. Flowers appear in late winter or spring and have a delicate fragrance similar to citrus blossoms. The flowers are followed by large clusters of striking purplish-blue berries that remain throughout the summer, if not devoured by birds that seem to find them irresistible.

Use and Management

Plant in groups of three at least two feet apart for the best garden effect. The flowers and fruit are striking when planted in mass and displayed against a background of green foliage provided by a taller, dense shrub.

Requiring little care except for an occasional watering once established, Leatherleaf Mahonia performs best when given partial shade and well-drained soil. Pruning is not required due to the very slow growth rate. Growth is slow and plants are thinner in total shade.

No pests or diseases are of major concern.

Several leafspots may be seen, but infected leaves can be picked off and destroyed.

Additional Characteristics

  • Soil Moisture: Moist, well-drained
  • Soil Types/Tolerance: Slightly alkaline; clay; sand; acidic; loam
  • Flowers: Yellow, spring, pleasant fragrance
  • Uses: Border, mass planting, container or above-ground planter, specimen, accent
  • Additional Features: None
  • Special Resistance: None


  • Available in 1, 3 or 5 gal containers.
  • Suggested plant spacing are:
  • Plant 18’, 24” to 36” OC
  • Bed Preparation:
  • Spread 3” of bed mix in ground cover beds
  • Till 6” deep, rake beds to drain away from structure
  • Plant
  • Topdress with 2” of double ground (fine) hardwood mulch.
  • Hand water in after planting
  • Set sprinkler controller to water beds:
  • Once every two days for two weeks in spring and early fall.
  • Once a day for two weeks when temperatures reach 98+ degrees.
  • Have Owner monitor moisture and report over or under watering immediately.
  • After two weeks reassess the watering needs, and set at twice a week thereafter.

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