• Evergreen
  • Shrubs
  • Deciduous
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Shade
  • Regular Water
  • Moderate Water

Plant Details

These dense, spiny-stemmed plants, especially the deciduous species, tolerate climate and soil extremes. They require no more than ordinary garden care and are not browsed by deer. Each year, thin out oldest wood and prune as needed to shapelate in the dormant season for deciduous kinds, after bloom for evergreen and semievergreen types. Barberries make fine hedges. Species grown for their foliage can be sheared, but those grown for their spring flowers and the fruit that follows are best pruned informally, because they bloom on the preceding year's growth. To rejuvenate overgrown or neglected plants, cut them to within a foot of the ground before new spring growth begins. Flowers are yellow unless other- wise noted.

B. darwinii. DARWIN BARBERRY. Evergreen. Zones MS, LS, CS; USDA 7-9. Hardy to 10F. Very showy barberry from Chile. Fountainlike growth to 510 ft. tall, 47 ft. wide. Crisp, dark green, hollylike, 1-in. leaves. Orange-yellow flowers are borne so thickly along branches that foliage is hard to see; these are followed by profuse dark blue berries that are popular with birds. Spreads by underground runners to form a thicket.

B. x gladwynensis 'William Penn'. Evergreen; drops some leaves at 0 to 10F. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Resembles B. julianae in general effect but has broader, glossier leaves and is faster growing, with denser growth. Reaches 4 ft. tall and wide. Good display of spring flowers and bronzy fall color that shades to yellow and purple.

B. x irwinii. See B. x stenophylla 'Irwinii'

B. julianae. WINTERGREEN BARBERRY. Evergreen to semievergreen. Zones US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Hardy to 0F, but foliage is damaged by severe winter cold. Chinese native. Dense, upright, to 6 ft. tall and wide; angled branches. Spiny-toothed, dark green, leathery leaves to 3 in. long; reddish fall color. Blue-black berries. One of the spiniest barberries; good as barrier hedge. Tolerates more shade than most barberries.

B. koreana. KOREAN BARBERRY. Deciduous. Zones US, MS; USDA 6-7. Hardy to 35F. Korean native grows erect to 46 ft. and not quite as wide. Densely foliaged in medium to dark green, 13-in. leaves that turn purple in fall. Fragrant flowers in drooping, 3- to 4-in. clusters. Bright red fruit.

B. linearifolia 'Orange King' (B. trigona 'Orange King'). Evergreen. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Hardy to 0 to 10F. This selection of a Chilean species has an open growth habit to 5 ft. tall and wide, with narrow, glossy, 2-in. leaves. Short clusters of deep orange flowers; bluish black fruit.

B. x mentorensis. MENTOR BARBERRY. Evergreen to deciduous hybrid of B. julianae and B. thunbergii. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Hardy to 20F but loses some or all leaves below 0F. Compact growth to 7 ft. tall and wide. Dark green, 1-in. leaves turn a beautiful red in fall where winters are cold. Berries are dull dark red but are rarely seen. Easy to maintain as a hedge. Tolerates hot, dry weather.

B. x stenophylla. ROSEMARY BARBERRY. Evergreen. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Hardy to 0F. Narrow, 121-in.-long leaves with rolled-in edges and spiny tip. Species is 10 ft. tall, 15 ft. wide, but selections are more commonly grown. 'Corallina Compacta', called coral barberry, reaches 1 ft. high and wide and bears nodding clusters of bright orange flowers and bluish black fruit; effective in rock garden or as foreground plant. 'Irwinii', to 45 ft. tall and wide, resembles a compact-growing B. darwinii.

B. thunbergii. JAPANESE BARBERRY. Deciduous. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Hardy to 20F. Graceful habit with slender, arching, spiny branches; if not sheared, usually reaches 46 ft. tall with equal spread. Densely covered with roundish, 12- to 112-in.-long leaves that are deep green above, paler beneath; leaves turn yellow, orange, and red before they fall. Beadlike, bright red berries stud branches in fall and through winter. Use as hedge, barrier planting, or specimen shrub. This species has become invasive in many parts of the South (roughly including Missouri, Tennessee, North Carolina and points north); in these areas, choose low-seed selections and avoid planting near open lands.

'Aurea'. Bright golden yellow foliage. Best color in full sun (though it can't take it in Coastal South), but plant will tolerate light shade. Slow growing to 2123 ft. tall and wide.

'Golden Nugget'. Dwarf selection reaching 1 ft. tall and wide. Golden leaves may be tinged orange. Sets few or no seeds.

'Kobold'. Extra-dwarf bright green selection. Like 'Crimson Pygmy' in habit but fuller and rounder.

'Sparkle'. To 5 ft. tall and 6 ft. wide, with rich green foliage that turns vivid yellow, orange, and red in fall.

B. t. atropurpurea. RED-LEAF JAPANESE BARBERRY. This group contains plants with leaves in the red to purple-red range. All develop most intense color in sun.

'Bagatelle'. Similar to 'Crimson Pygmy' but with smaller, glossier, deeper red-purple leaves and a narrower shape; 1122 ft. tall and wide. Sets few or no seeds.

'Cherry Bomb'. Like 'Crimson Pygmy', but 4 ft. tall, with larger leaves and more open growth. Regular water.

'Concorde'. Grows 18 in. tall and wide, produces maroon-purple leaves that go red in fall; small flowers, red berries.

'Crimson Pygmy' ('Atropurpurea Nana'). The most widely sold Japanese barberry, this selection grows 1122 ft. high and 2123 ft. wide. New leaves are bright red, mature to bronzy blood red. Sets few or no seeds.

'Golden Ring'. Grows 3 ft. tall and wide. Reddish purple leaves with a thin green or golden green border.

'Golden Ruby'. Dwarf selection reaching 2 ft. high and wide. Leaves open coral, then turn purple-red with golden margins. Sets few or no seeds.

'Helmond Pillar'. Columnar form grows 6 ft. tall, 2 ft. wide, with reddish purple foliage. Sets few or no seeds.

'Pygmy Ruby'. Grows 112 ft. high, 3 ft. wide, with deep red foliage. Sets few or no seeds.

'Rose Glow'. To 46 ft. tall and wide. New foliage marbled bronzy red and pinkish white, deepening to rose and bronze with age. Very popular.

'Royal Cloak'. Compact, mounding to 4 ft. high and at least as wide. Large, dark purple-red leaves.

B. trigona 'Orange King'. See B. linearifolia 'Orange King'.

B. verruculosa. WARTY BARBERRY. Evergreen. Zones US, MS; USDA 6-7. Hardy to 0F. Native to China. Neat, tailored looking. Will reach 45 ft. tall and wide but can be kept to 112 ft. Perky, inch-long leaves are glossy, dark green above, whitish beneath. In fall and winter, the odd red leaf develops as a highlight here and there. Black berries with a purplish bloom. Very choice and effective on banks, in front of leggy rhododendrons or azaleas, in foreground of shrub border. Tolerates poor soils.

B. wilsoniae. WILSON BARBERRY. Deciduous to semi-evergreen. Zones US, MS, LS; USDA 6-8. Hardy to 5F. Native to China. To 6 ft. tall and wide, but it can be held to 34 ft. Light green, roundish, 12- to 1-in. leaves give a fine-textured look. Beautiful coral to salmon-red berries. Makes a handsome barrier hedge.

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