Host: Gary Bachman, Ornamental Horticulture Specialist
Beautyberry is a native shrub that will put on a fall show with clusters of bright purple berries today on Southern Gardening.
Known botanically as Callicarpa americana, beautyberry is commonly found on the edges of woodlands in Mississippi. However it is quite at home in the landscape. Small pink flowers appear in the leaf axils of the paired leaves. The leaves will turn a deep, rich purple in the fall.
The berries are the real show. The berries are a bright, shiny purple arranged in clusters at the leaf nodes all along the arching stems. The species Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Albifructus’ has white berries. There is even a variegated beautyberry called ‘Duet’.
The plant will grow up to four feet tall and wide. In north Mississippi this plant may die back to the ground in severe winters. It is a good practice to prune the plant back in early spring to about six inches. This will create a fuller and more compact plant.
Beautyberry has a loose and open habit. One plant can be attractive, but a grouping of two or three will create a full cluster. The plants will cross pollinate and help ensure the fullest fruit production.
Beautyberry will tolerate dry soil conditions and part shade. But the healthiest plants and best fruit presentation will be in the full sun. Be sure to maintain consistent soil moisture.
A good use of beautyberry is to tuck it in behind other fall blooming plants. It will add a soft background during the summer months and dazzle in the fall with the metallic berries.
Beautyberry will certainly live up to its name and add beauty to any fall garden.
I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.