Wednesday, March 24, 2010

American Beautyberry Notes

Beautyberry, American Callicarpa americana  (2013, 2018)
Deciduous, 5 ft x 6ft Great native understory shrub;prefers dependable moisture and deep soil, so not suited to rain gardens; attractive berries in fall and winter; wildlife food; graceful structure does not need pruning

It’s best to prune American Beautyberry shrubs in late winter or very early spring. There are two methods of pruning. The simplest is to cut the entire shrub back to 6 inches above the ground. It grows back with a neat, rounded shape. This method keeps the shrub small and compact. Beautyberry doesn’t need pruning every year if you use this system.

Growth: Looking back at my notes, I planted my first Beautyberry in 2013. In a 2015 post, I noted that it had not grown much. But by 2019, it has reached its full height of 6 feet.

Winter:  It loses its leaves after the first frost. The first two years that I purchased it, it died down to the ground, and small green sprouts appeared from the ground in early April. Now that it is established, it grows back from existing branches. Buds start appearing in early to mid-March. 

Pruning: I have never pruned my first Beautyberry (back corner bed by the bird bath).  It keeps getting taller, and is very leggy, but drapes nicely over the bath. In 2018, I purchased a second Beautyberry and put it in a "new" bed on the east side fence. I also purchased an Amethyst Beautyberry in 2018. I pruned this one in its first year, as it doesn't have as much room to grow as the other Beautyberries

Flowers:  I can't remember when this blooms, but it has very small, nondescript white blooms, if I recall.  Notes show that in late August it starts developing its beautiful purple berries.

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