Sunday, September 04, 2016

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.

All who are involved with You Can Grow That! (YCGT!) believe that plants and gardening enhance our quality of life. We want people to be successful with what they grow and to become more aware of the many gifts that horticulture brings. Find out more at

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