- Genus: Berberis
- Most common variety: Thunberg Barberry (berberis thunbergia)
- Other popular varieties: Darwin’s Barberry, Superba, Golden Rocket, Crimson Pygmy, Harlequin
Barberry is a deciduous, evergreen shrub that grows vibrant foliage the entire season in rich burgundy, yellow or green; their constant colourf makes up for the lack of showy blooms.
It can be considered an invasive species so it is wise to check with your local authorities before planting a barberry hedge. It grows up to eight feet and can even grow up to seven feet in width.
Barberry is a versatile plant and grows in a wide variety of environments. It’s roots spread easily and are thick which contributes to its classification as an invasive species. It has an ash-coloured bark and a white pith.
The Barberry leaf is arranged in rosettes or alternate. Each leaf is oval, flat with spiny teeth and the leaf colour ranges from burgundy to blue-green depending on the variety.
Barberry flowers are present from April until June. The small yellow racemes cluster together and become mature into sour, purplish berries. The flowers mature into sour berries.
Highly nutritious, those little red barberries are rich in several vitamins, fibre, and carbohydrates. They are also a great vitamin C source and can be used to treat heart disease, but y’know, consult a physician and all that!
Pruning your Barberry hedge twice a year should suffice: after the shrub has fruited, in Autumn or early Winter, prune for shape. In the Winter and Summer months, remove deadwood.
Propogate your barberry hedge by taking semi-hardwood barberry cuttings in the summer.
- Take a six inch cutting, just below a leaf node, from a branch with lots of growth and strip the shoots on the lower half.
- Dip the base in rooting hormone.
- Make a hole in a rooting pot filled with wet sand and place the cutting into it, keeping all the remaining leaves above the surface.
- Cover the pot with a plastic bag to retain a moist environment.
- After two to three weeks, you can expect roots to have formed and by lightly tugging the plant, you will feel the roots giving a little resistance.
- After another two weeks, replant your cutting into potting compost and give it plenty of TLC until the Autumn, when you can plant it into the ground.
How to Plant a Barberry Hedge
It is not hard to grow barberry bushes and many city folks select this shrub because compared to other landscape shrub varieties, these tolerate urban conditions better.
Barberries like partial shade and full sun and do adapt to a broad selection of soil with good drainage. Late winter is a great time to transplant barberries, or after flowering.
The shrubs can reach six feet wide so plant these three feet away from everything else. For mass plantings for a hedge, plant each bush three feet apart.
Aphids are a common threat, as they coat the leaves with sticky honeydew and suck the plant juice.
Treat your Barberry with horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps, or neem oil which are all effective against pests such as aphids. You can also wipe plant leaves with a few drops of dish soap and water to repel aphids.
Fun Facts About Barberry
- It has been used for over 2500 years as a medicinal plant in Asia.
- The root, the bark and the berries can all be used for healing.
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