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Graham Rice's New Plants Blog

Graham Rice Garden writer and plantsman Northamptonshire and Pennsylvania

Editor-in-Chief of the RHS Encyclopedia of Perennials; writer for a wide range of newspapers and magazines including The Garden and The Plantsman; member of the RHS Herbaceous Plant Committee and Floral Trials Committee; author of many books on plants and gardens.

  • Date Joined: 18 Oct 2006

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Mahonia 'Soft Caress': New spine-free Mahonia from Crocus

Posted by Graham Rice on 20 Sep 2012 at 08:31 PM

Mahonia 'Soft Caress': New spine-free Mahonia from Crocus. Image © 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.

Comments said:

This is definately a very noteworthy new plant.... also available from  Keep up the good blog work! Chris - Gardening Express

on 28 Sep 2012 at 10:50 AM

Graham Rice said:

Sorry to have missed off Gardening Express, Chris. Glad to see you're listing this excellent plant too.

on 28 Sep 2012 at 12:16 PM said:

direct link is thanks!

on 28 Sep 2012 at 12:43 PM

Francis Peeters said:

hello there,

by 'extra hardiness' do you mean this is your own experience or is it the seller optimistic saying ? The problem with new plants is that we have not enough experience with them to assert their performance. 'Soft Caress' is by no means hardy. Certainly not more than other mahonias. Mine has completely burned down in December and friends in other parts of Belgium (with climate same as South East UK)experienced the same !

on 23 May 2013 at 02:50 PM