Mahonias are amongst the most impressive and dependable of flowering shrubs – but they have a problem. They’re spiny, sometimes viciously spiny. Not any more.
Mahonia eurybracteata is a modestly sized evergreen shrub that grows wild in five provinces of south west China. Reaching 3-4ft/90-120cm in height, and about as wide creating a more or less rounded plant, the long slender divided foliage is slightly greyish green, soft to the touch and not at all spiny or holly-like as so many varieties are.
From August until October the flowers appear, upright clusters of spikes at the tips of the shoots are lined with slightly fragrant, bright yellow flowers that last for many weeks and are followed by blue berries.
‘Soft Caress’ is a new form selected for its extra hardiness and for foliage which has a more noticeably silvery sheen. The leaves may also take on reddish tints as the days shorten and the nights become cooler. ‘Soft Caress’ is neat enough to be grown in a container, or is happy in a sunny or partially shaded border where it appreciates fertile, but well-drained soil.
‘Soft Caress’ was selected by Ozzie Johnson and Karen Stever from a group of seedlings of Mahonia eurybracteata grown at ItSaul Plants in Chamblee, Georgia.
You can order Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Soft Caress’ from Crocus.