Care in the garden

When planted in the garden, two applications of cow manure pellets a year provide enough fertiliser for Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’. This should be scattered on the ground beneath and a little beyond its leaf canopy. For optimal results, we advise scattering it during rainy weather so that the manure starts releasing its nutrients straightaway.

The best time for the first application is middle to late April before the new leaves start to emerge. Early August is a good time for the second application since this is just before the plant blooms and when it needs more energy. Try to prevent any manure pellets from coming into contact with the leaves. If this happens, however, it would be advisable to rinse the leaves off with a little water.

Care in pots

When you use your ‘Soft Caress’ as a patio plant (terrace plant), you will have to transplant it to a somewhat larger pot with fresh potting compost every two years. If the pot is already fairly large, or if transplanting to larger pots becomes increasingly difficult, it would be better to take the plant out of its pot and carefully remove some of the potting compost (a little harm to the roots will not cause serious damage). Then put some new potting compost into the pot and put the plant back into it. The last step would be to scatter some fresh potting compost on top.

The easiest way to provide fertiliser is to use a slow-release fertiliser such as: Osmocote Exact Tablets 8-9 months. Use your thumb to press these tablets into the upper layer of the potting compost just above the root ball until they have disappeared beneath the surface. Do not insert them too closely to the trunk. A maximum of four grams may be applied for every litre contained by the pot. The tablets are available as 5 and 7.5-gram tablets. If your ornamental pot holds five litres (diameter of around 23 cm) you should add no more than twenty grams (or four 5-gram tablets). By doing this in April, your plant will be supplied with enough nutrients for the rest of the year.

‘Soft Caress’ will perform very well on a patio in full sun but it will need regular watering. Make sure that the surface of the potting compost always feels moist to the touch. When the plant starts to bloom, it is better to place it in partial shade so that you can enjoy its flowers longer.


During periods of winter frost, it will be necessary to move a mahonia shrub in a pot to a more protected place, preferably a frost-free location. Temperatures just below freezing, however, should not cause the plant any permanent damage. But if temperatures drop to -5 degrees Celsius, a frost-free location will definitely be required!

In the garden, it is important to shelter ‘Soft Caress’ from easterly winds. During periods of -10 degrees Celsius, it will be important to cover the plant with a winter-protection fleece.


If the plant becomes too large, you can prune it back as shown in the pictures. In any case, make sure that there are still some leaves left on the branch that you are trimming off since the new shoots will emerge from the leaf axils.