Beautyberry: Plant This or That

Plant Pops of Purple!

Beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana) is one of those shrubs that jumps into one's gardening consciousness in early fall. Purple berries seem to appear out of nowhere. This shrub is very easy to grow in full sun

and part shade. It naturally grows in moist soils but you can grow it in average soils as well. Beautyberry grows in clay soils too. A mature shrub reaches up to 6 feet high and wide. Deer eat beautyberry foliage so please keep that in mind if deer frequent your garden.

The berries create their own ombre effect as they morph from green to pink to purple. This is one of those shrubs that isn't a focal point until berries begin to form. If you have a sunny spot for it, it is totally worth it. If left to its own devices, this shrub will grow in a pretty gangly way as below.

If you like a more uniform shape, prune it back to half a foot or so in early spring and it will grow in a more uniform shape as below. The berries will form on the new growth.

Beautyberry is a "plant this or that" choice because there is also an Asian beautyberry shrub (Callicarpa dichotoma, Calllicarpa japonica, and Callicarpa bodinieri) frequently sold in nurseries. The Asian shrubs are quite similar though slightly more uniform in growth habit. You can distinguish between the two by looking at the berry clusters. Berries on the non-native ornamental shrub grow on slender short stems shooting off of the branch. Berry clusters of native beautyberry form on the branch.

If you have a beauty berry in your future, look for the American version!

We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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ILLUSTRATIONS FROM: 
BIODIVERSITY HERITAGE LIBRARY

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