Mahonia × media ‘Winter Sun’

hybrid mahonia

  • © Richie Steffen / Great Plant Picks

Outstanding Qualities

This statuesque, evergreen shrub is a dramatic focal point for the winter garden. Its large, frond-like leaves develop in whorls along its coarsely branched stems. Great sprays of fragrant, yellow flowers in dense, upstanding inflorescences appear in late fall or early winter. Flowers develop into grape-like clusters of wax-coated black berries by late summer and autumn. Beautiful foliage and upright growth habit make this hybrid mahonia a strong focal point in the garden. Plant it with Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata', Stachyurus praecox, Helleborus x hybridus, Carex testacea and Cyclamen coum. 'Winter Sun' was selected at Slieve Donard Nursery in Ireland in 1966. It has a more compact habit of growth and more fragrance than its related cultivars. It is worth seeking out in specialty nurseries.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: shrub

Foliage Type: evergreen

Plant Height: 7 ft. 0 in. (2.13 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 4 ft. 0 in. (1.22 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 10 ft. 0 in. (3.05 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 5 ft. 0 in. (1.52 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 to 9

Flower Color: yellow

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun to dappled shade

Water Requirements: drought tolerant once established

Wildlife Associations: birds

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: gold, silver, white, variegated

Great Color Partners: dark green, chartreuse, blue

Culture Notes
This hybrid mahonia is tough. It will grow well in full sun to dappled shade. It prefers a well-drained soil, but will tolerate sandy sites and clay. Once established it is drought tolerant, although plants in full sun can yellow if kept excessively dry. Occasional watering during dry weather will help plants in sun to maintain a rich green foliage color. Prune the tips in early spring, while the plant in young, to make a fuller bushier specimen. Older plants need little pruning other than the removal of dead, broken or poorly formed limbs.