Why you should be growing beautyberry shrubs, aka Callicarpa americana. A gorgeous native that produces brilliant purple berries in the fall.
Callicarpa, commonly known as Beautyberry, is a favorite shrub grown for its bright almost neon purple berries. What's even more wonderful is the fact that these gorgeous berries show up in late summer when everything else is dying back.
Growing Beautyberry Shrubs
There are over 140 species of the Callicarpa. The American beautyberry, C. americana is native to the southeastern part of the United States.
The plant I have in my garden is C. dichotoma ‘Early Amethyst,” a Korean cultivar that fruits a little earlier has an overall slightly smaller shape and is hardy to zone 5. It's very easy to grow in full sun or partial shade. It tolerates drought well and has few pest or disease issues.
In the spring I cut this shrub back to 12-18 inches high. By late mid-summer, it grows back to its full stature of around five feet tall by eight feet wide. This early pruning helps promote more prolific berries in the summer.
Interestingly, this native plant is was used by Native Americans for rheumatism, fevers, and malaria, stomach aches and colic.
Today many people make beautyberry jelly and an insect repellent from the leaves.
See this article from mother earth news about how the active ingredients from the beautyberry are compared to DEET.
As a bonus, it is not unusual to find a seedling or two, though the beautyberry is far from invasive.
You may be able to purchase one for yourself at your local nursery. Around here they almost always have current bloomers for sale. If not, you can certainly find one through a mail-order catalog online.
Add it to your wish list. Great color, easy to grow, and low maintenance makes the beautyberry shrub a must have for any garden.
Check out my article on 5 Must Have Shrubs for Your Garden to learn a little more about Callicarpa and a few of my other favorite shrubs.
Just planted my Beautyberry, I babied them in a 4" pot all winter !!! plenty of stems with heathy leaves , within a week, no more leaves !!!!! Will they come back ???? Planted 8 bushes 5' apart !!!
Danny, I can't say for sure but they seem to be incredibly hardy plants so let's hope so.
What about birds? Does it attract birds? Do they eat the berries?
Yes is does attract birds and they do eat the berries.
I've noticed this in the winter when there's not much else for them around and all the leaves have fallen.
Have a great week,
This has been on my wish list for awhile now and for some reason I have failed to get one. I have never seen one locally but it sounds like they are easy to grow. I just need to bite the bullet and get one ordered. I also saw your pumpkin chipotle soup recipe and it sounds amazing. We love anything chipotle.
The Beautyberry is such a nice shrub for me because nothing else is blooming at this time. We do have great fall color but nothing as bright as the purple berries.
Here's where I purchased mine though it may be too far to send to CA? I also see if for sale around here at this time of year.
PS the leaves are not chartreuse as shown on WFF website.
Oh and thank for the kind comment about the pumpkin soup. I was feeling like I needed to make something with those pie pumpkins and then they turned out to be duds. Oh well, stuff happens.
Thanks for stopping by,
I have a beauty berry but it hasn't bloomed yet. Does it have to be a certain age before blooming?
Thank you for sharing!
That's so disappointing. Mine has bloomed from the start. One thing I do is cut it back severely in the spring. I'm talking 6 - 8 inches from the ground. I learned this at a garden symposium that it performs best on new growth. Don't worry. It grows 5 - 6 feet tall by Sept. The only other thing I can think of is make sure it gets full sun.
Thanks for stopping by,
I have a huge beautyberry. It's beautiful. Can I root cuttings?
I have found a few babies that have sprung up near this bush in the spring so you may find the same. Also, I haven't rooted them myself but I would venture to guess that it would root easily from cuttings and certainly worth a try. Let me know how it turns out.
Thanks for stopping by,
I have probably broken every planting and pruning rule in the book as my time to do things doesn’t always match what the book says. I have cut back my beauty berries in the early spring, mid-summer, and the fall. I take what I cut, place them in a bucket of water and in a few weeks roots appear! I take 3-5 branches, dig a hole, and the following spring I have well established bushes.
Sami, that's good to hear. They are really good growers. Thanks for sharing.
About a month ago i went for a drive- I'm in North Texas and encountered a bush very similar to this. I'm going to have to look back through my photos to see if it is the same. It was beautiful and growing wild everywhere in this one area. Ir caught my attention for sure, the color was amazing. Great post and glad I found your blog.
Carole @ Garden Up green
Thanks so much for your reply. I bet those were Beautyberry bushes that you saw in Texas. They are native to the south and those are the ones from which people make the jelly so I'm sure the birds and other wildlife will find them soon. My Beautyberry is an ornamental one and is said to be bitter so I have not tried it and have noticed the birds leave it alone except for one year during early winter I had bluebirds on it which was a wonderful surprise because I rarely see them in PA. So glad you stopped by.
Emily @ Table + Hearth
Beautyberry has always been one of my favorites so when we re-landscaped our yard with all Texas natives (and a lot of shade), it was one of the first plants I got. Now it's as tall as the fence and covered in berries, and I never have to water it, even through our south Texas summers. I need to attempt beautyberry jelly soon though!
You definitely should try making the jelly. Apparently mine is more ornamental but I just may try making a homemade bug spray with the leaves next year.
What a beautiful shrub! I found your lovely blog on the SITS Sharefest & now I'm following you on Twitter.
Wow! What a fabulous find! Is this a nursery plant or something to look for at Home Depot or Lowes?
You should be able to find some variety of callicarpa in a Home Depot or Lowes. I would check now because they always bring it what's currently in bloom. You are going to love it.
I especially love sharing those that are easy to grow. My beautyberry bush is so pretty this time of year. It's just screaming, "Take a picture of me!" 🙂
Thanks for sharing! I always like hearing about more unusual plants from other gardeners. Love your pictures of the berries - very pretty!