Variegated False Holly

Plants for the shade – Variegated false holly (Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’)

Outstanding Qualities
Evergreens give a garden backbone, form, and in some cases, they give it a rainbow of colors. Osmanthus heterophyllus ‘Goshiki’ is an extremely tough, variegated evergreen shrub with year-round interest and is especially useful in the winter garden.

Variegated False Holly-by Rita Mercer

‘Goshiki’ means ‘five colored’ in Japanese and refers to the various colors found on each leaf: cream, pink, orange, yellow, and white combine together to create an eye-catching display. The holly-like foliage makes a wonderful addition to holiday decorations. A slow to moderate grower reaching 6-feet tall by 4-feet wide in 10 years, it is a perfect addition to any garden, large or small.

Uses in the Garden
As much as ‘Goshiki’ is gorgeous used as an accent or focal point, it can also be used in foundation plantings or in massed plantings. It brightens up shady areas, especially if set against a background of dark evergreens. With its dense growth habit, it makes an excellent colorful short hedge, amenable to shearing, and can also be kept in a large container on your deck.

How to Grow
Semi-shade is best in the South for maximum color (the leaves will bleach out in our hot sun).  ‘Goshiki’ is drought tolerant once established and needs minimal pruning nor is fertilizer needed. Mulch to preserve moisture. It is an extremely durable plant with no notable pest or disease problems, including deer.

An avid shade plant enthusiast, Rita Mercer gardens under majestic oaks in Apex, N.C. Contact her for shade-gardening advice or take a virtual tour of her garden at

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