It’s a beauty(berry)

BeautyberryThe native beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is only occasionally available in garden centers, though it is readily available through mail order suppliers. Asian imports (Callicarpa dichotoma, above) are showier, I suppose, and in a long established garden I avoid small, mail order sized shrubs and tree unless there is absolutely no alternative. The Asian beautyberry is quite acceptable, and native or not, birds could care less, just bring on the berries.

Beautyberries of any sort are only half woody, and much like blue mist shrubs (Caryopteris), soft wooded stems must be cut back a foot or two each spring. Interestingly, after a colder than typical winter, less pruning was required this spring, though the beautyberries leafed considerably later than usual. Go figure. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With numerous winter related problems in the garden this spring I thought for a short while that the beautyberries might be dead, but once they began to leaf it was soon apparent there was no damage. I suspect that considerable effort would be required to kill them, and no matter how severe, winter temperatures in this garden will never be a threat..

The white berried ‘Albifructus’ (Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Albifructus’, above) is planted in a half sunny spot where a constant trickle of water from a spring flows over its roots so that soil remains saturated, and while other sturdy shrubs have perished in the dampness, beautyberry shows no ill effect. Purple beautyberries on the far side of the garden flourish without any direct sunlight in bone dry ground beneath towering tulip poplars, so it seems safe to recommend beautyberry over a wide range of conditions.Duet beautyberry

The variegated leaf beautyberry ‘Duet’ (Callicarpa dichitoma ‘Duet’, above) has been planted most recently in damp, but not wet ground, and here I expect it will work wonderfully. The berries on this young shrub are scarce this year, but the variegation is striking, and I suppose that this will be a delightful addition to the garden.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. I had no idea there was a variegated leaf variety! How incredibly pretty!

    1. Dave says:

      I prefer the variegation of this beautyberry to the speckled Snowstorm, but I prefer the purple berries. If there is enough space, any beautyberry is a worthwhile addition to a garden.

  2. Laurin Lindsey says:

    I just saw the variegated Snow Storm beautyberry at a local grower yesterday. Trying to think of where I could fit it in my garden.

    1. Dave says:

      Since the foliage and flowers of beautyberries are unremarkable through much of the year, and because they grow fairly large they cannot be sited just anywhere. But, when the berries are on display you want them to be upfront. Mine are situated so that the neighbors cannot see them, but I realize when neighbors comment on the front garden they have no idea what’s in back, which is probably just as well.

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