Beautyberry: You Can Grow That

Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is a shrub that is native to our Mid-Atlantic area and throughout the southeastern United States, Beautyberry adapts well to various growing conditions from part shade to full sun, from moist soil to dry. It reaches 4-6 feet in height and width.

It is a show-stopper in late summer/early fall when the brilliant purple berries adorn the branches. Birds and other wildlife are also fond of the berries as a food source so you may find your berry display stripped sooner than you would like.

The shrub itself is a bit awkward in growth habit -- throwing out a long branch here, than there. Careful placement is a must so that you can both enjoy the berries and not be constantly fighting its wayward limbs. I planted mine to the back corner of a garden bench near a fence and that allows me to drape and arrange it as needed. In early spring, you should do a rejuvenation pruning -- meaning cut it all back to about 6".

Beautyberry in flower
The crushed leaves are said to be an excellent mosquito repellent and scientists are currently testing that Beautyberry benefit with promising results. I tried it out myself and did not find it effective, but your mileage may vary.

The shrub is famous for its amethyst-purple berries. Recent introductions also include white and pink berry versions. There is a small trial garden at the US National Arboretum in Washington, DC, that is worth visiting this time of year to view the different cultivars and to decide which ones you'd like to add to your home garden.

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Modern Mia said…
Do these grow well in containers? Or will they grow in containers? I don't have much space in the garden and yard but I need some of these for the fall berries for our migrating birds. Plus, I just really like their fall beauty.
Modern Mia - I have not heard of anyone wintering them over in containers. I suspect they would not make it, but worth a gamble to experiment with it.
Anonymous said…
I had a similar question. I planted one a few years ago and it's now being crowded by nearby plants in my part-shade bed. Was thinking of transplanting it to a whiskey barrel on the deck where it would stay year round. Do you mean it might get too cold in the container over the winter? Thanks for clarifying!
Really beautiful bush. I am waiting for mine to change to blue. This will be my first year to have the berries. Nice photos!
Anonymous - I don't think it will be too cold, but that it the roots will dry out too much in the winter winds, which containers are much more susceptible to dealing with.

Kim - Thanks and hope your shrub is loaded with colorful, long-lasting berries :-)
Diana Carter said…
I started a plant from a cutting and left it in its pot. It has been through two winters now. It's healthy. A bit small for its age - probably pot bound. But this does argue in favor of trying it as a container plant. You may find it outgrows the container quickly though.
Anonymous said…
That is not a photo of C. americana. Most likely C. japonica. The former has larger leaves, and the berries are tighly wrapped around the stem, while they dangle on latter (as seen in the photo).

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