Plant American Beautyberry For A Fall Show


American beautyberry at NC Arboretum in Asheville, NC

Colorful fall fruits

American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is a loose open growing shrub valued for its spectacular fruits in the fall (USDA hardiness zones 6-10). The growth rate of this native shrub is rapid, eventually reaching 4-7 feet in height and 4-6 feet in spread within 5 years after planting.

Beautyberry thrives in a moist, humus-rich, mildly acidic, well-drained soil and in a mostly sunny spot in the garden. It will grow well in partial sun, although fruits are not as showy in shady areas. Group several plants together for better fruit numbers.

Small clusters of pink flowers are born in the axils of the leaves from late June thru August and mostly go unnoticed. Flowers lead to a showy display of brightly colored fruit clusters that will catch your eye and those of friends and neighbors. The magenta to violet berries are 1/5” in diameter. Leaves may turn faint pink or yellowish in fall before dropping.

Beautyberry requires little annual care (other than pruning) after its first year in your garden. Feed annually with 10-10-10 granular fertilizer (or equivalent). Lay down a fresh 2-3″ layer of mulch as a weed preventative and to conserve soil moisture. It is not troubled by any significant disease or insect problems. Beautyberry is propagate by vegetative cuttings or from seed.

Every 2-3 years, in late winter or early spring, this vigorous growing shrub should be pruned to control its size and shape. A multi-year unpruned shrub may also be severely cut back to within 6 inches from the ground. It should flower and bear lots of fruits by fall.

No question that beautyberry is most valued for its spectacular fruits. Berries are important food source for many species of birds and other wildlife.  Summer flowers attract butterflies.

Native beautyberries are not frequently found at garden centers that prefer selling the Asian cultivars.

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