Nobody wants a dull garden in winter. Why work hard from spring to summer creating a garden full of colour when it’ll all just fade away come September? And even if you’re not using your garden in winter (I’ll admit, even my garden receives a bit less footfall after the leaves begin to turn brown), there’s a huge benefit to incorporating winter flowering plants in your beds, borders and pots: feeding the bees. Mahonia Volcano is perfect for this very reason.
How to grow Mahonia Volcano
Flowering time: October to November/December
Location: Borders, pots or hedging
Soil: Rich, well-drained soil
Light: Full sun or partial shade
Water: Water well when establishing
Care: Apply well-rotted garden compost or manure around the base of the plant annually in spring
Size: 1.5m height and 1m spread
How was this plant created?
Japanese plant breeder Seiju Yamaguchi found the seedling of Mahonia Volcano back in 2013. Potentially, it could have been a hybrid between two different species, but this is difficult to track.
Yamaguchi has an impressive collection of many different Mahonia varieties, and after finding the seed, he let the bees do the work!
Mahonia Volcano caught Yamaguchi’s eye because of its elegant, fine, silvery-green foliage in comparison to the rich and robust greenery of other Mahonia varieties. He separated the plant from the collection to observe its flowers, and identified that this variety opened with warm shares of orange and yellow – a contrast to other Mahonias, which would produce only yellow blooms.
What’s different about this plant?
Mahonia Volcano is an early flowering variety, pushing out its warm-hued blooms from October to November (or December, depending on the onset of winter). So, when your hydrangeas are fading, your gerberas have disappeared and your clematis has gone AWOL, your Mahonia Volcano can take their places to bring you late autumn to early winter colour!
Mahonia is more important to winter bees than you might expect – 75% of flower visitations by bees in winter are to this plant alone! The extra boost of nectar will give them the energy they need to survive the descent into winter, so it’s a must-have for a pollinator-friendly garden.
Where can you plant Mahonia Volcano?
To get the most out of its autumn/winter beauty, plant Mahonia Volcano in borders as a structural addition to the garden. It also works exceptionally well in a large patio pot, or planted en masse as a loose hedge.
Where can you buy this plant?
Mahonia Volcano can be purchased in the UK at Crocus.
Plant of the Month is sponsored by Plantipp, a company based in The Netherlands who handle the introduction of new plants into Europe.
See every Plant of the Month here.
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook – and writes a plant-focused Substack called Grow This, Not That.