How to Grow Tall Oregon Grape - Plant Care & Tips

By NorwichGardener Team   /   2024

Tall oregon grape is a species of grape plant that is native to the western United States and Canada. The plant is a member of the genus Vitis and the family Vitaceae. The species is characterized by its tall, woody vine that can grow up to 30 feet in length. The grape leaves are large and lobed, and the fruits are small, dark-purple berries. The plant is found in forests, woodlands, and mountain slopes. The tall oregon grape is an important food source for many animals, including birds, deer, and bears.

How to Grow Tall Oregon Grape - Plant Care & Tips

Also known as

  • Mahonia aquifolium
  • Mahonia nervosa
  • Mahonia pinnata
  • Mahonia repens
  • Mahonia trifoliolata

Good to Know

  • Tall Oregon grape is a species of flowering plant in the barberry family.
  • It is native to western North America from British Columbia to California.
  • It is a tall shrub or small tree, typically reaching 5-15 m (16-49 ft) in height.
  • The leaves are evergreen, alternate, and pinnately compound, with 9-19 leaflets.
  • The flowers are small, yellow, and borne in clusters.
  • The fruit is a dark purple berry.
  • Tall Oregon grape is found in a variety of habitats, including forests, woodlands, and chaparral.
  • It is an important food plant for a variety of animals, including birds and mammals.
  • The plant has a long history of use by Native Americans, who used it for a variety of purposes, including food, medicine, and making baskets.
  • Tall Oregon grape is the state flower of Oregon.

How to Grow

  1. For tall oregon grape, first step is to find a location that has good drainage and full sun.
  2. The next step is to till the soil and mix in some organic matter such as compost.
  3. Once the soil is prepared, you will need to take your tall oregon grape plant and dig a hole that is twice the size of the root ball.
  4. After you have dug the hole, you will need to place the plant in the hole and backfill with soil.
  5. Once the plant is securely in the ground, you will need to water it thoroughly.
  6. The next step is to mulch around the base of the plant to help with moisture retention.
  7. You will need to fertilize the plant in the spring and summer with a balanced fertilizer.
  8. You will need to prune the plant in the late winter or early spring to encourage new growth.
  9. The final step is to enjoy your tall oregon grape plant!

Related plant:
Shrubs Under 2 Feet Tall

The Soil

About soil condition, the tall oregon grape prefers humus-rich, moist soils, but it is drought tolerant once established. It also does well in rocky, clay soils. This plant does not tolerate shade well.

About light

So, like the other plants, the tall Oregon grape needs sunlight to photosynthesize and create its own food. The amount of sunlight it needs depends on the variety of grape, but most need at least six hours of direct sunlight a day. The grape leaves will start to turn yellow if they're not getting enough sunlight.

The Temperature

The temperature condition that is most ideal for tall Oregon grape is a warm temperature. This plant grows best in a temperature that is between 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it can also tolerate a temperature as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ideal Humidity

Ideal humidity condition for this plant is 50%-60%. The leaves of the tall Oregon grape will curl and the plant will lose its glossy appearance if the humidity drops below 50%. If the humidity is too high, the leaves will become limp and the plant may develop root rot.


About fertilizer, this family of plant is not very picky. A good all-purpose fertilizer will work just fine. The most important thing is to make sure it is applied regularly, because these plants can deplete the nutrients in the soil quickly. As for the roots, they are shallow and need to be kept moist. But, be careful not to over-water, because that can lead to problems with rot.

About light

Pruning your tall Oregon grape is important to keep the plant healthy and looking its best. Pruning also helps to encourage new growth. When pruning, be sure to remove any dead or damaged branches. Cut back the branches that are crossing or rubbing against each other. You can also prune to shape the plant or to control its size.

The Propagation

Propagation of tall Oregon grape is done through softwood cuttings taken from new growth in late spring or early summer. The cuttings should be about 6 inches long and taken from the tips of the stems. Cuttings can be planted immediately or stored in a cool, dark place for planting at a later date. Be sure to keep the cuttings moist until planting.

Growth Rate

Usually, the plant growth rate is determined by the amount of rainfall the plant receives. The plant typically grows 6 to 12 inches per year, but can grow up to 24 inches per year if rainfall is plentiful. Tall oregon grape is a shade-tolerant plant, which means it can grow in areas with little sunlight. This plant is also tolerant of poor soil conditions.

Basic Problems

Common problems for this kind of plant are powdery mildew, rust, and leaf spot. These can all be controlled with fungicide sprays. If you see any of these problems on your plant, be sure to treat them as soon as possible.

List to Know

  • If you want your Oregon grape to grow tall, choose a planting site that gets full sun.
  • Amend the soil with compost or other organic matter to help the plant roots establish themselves.
  • Water regularly during the first growing season to keep the soil moist but not soggy.
  • Fertilize in early spring with a balanced fertilizer designed for shrubs and bushes.
  • Prune Oregon grape in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins.
  • Keep an eye out for aphids, scale, and other insects that can damage the plant.
  • Protect the plant from winter damage by covering it with burlap or a similar material.
  • Remove any dead or damaged branches as they occur.
  • Once established, Oregon grape is relatively drought tolerant.
  • Enjoy the beautiful clusters of yellow flowers that appear in late spring!

Related Plants

  • Berberis, barberry
  • Blueberry
  • Catberry
  • Crabapple
  • Dogwood
  • Elderberry
  • Gooseberry
  • Hawthorn
  • Holly
  • Huckleberry

Arborvitae stands tall as easy-care hedge | Oregon State University
Arborvitae stands tall as a low-maintenance hedge
Mahonia aquifolium | Landscape Plants | Oregon State University

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Reviewed & Published by Richelle
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Shrubs Category