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How one can Plant, Develop and Care For American Beautyberry

A quick-growing, engaging, and wildlife-friendly shrub? You could have by no means heard of the American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), however it checks all of the bins. It could develop 4 to 7 toes (and generally 10 toes!) in only one season!

This U.S. native shrub of the mint household, Lamiaceae, is fast-growing, drought tolerant, and produces lovely purple to violet berries every fall. Let’s dive into the world of the beautyberry to study extra!

Botanical Title: Callicarpa americana Solar Req: Full Solar to Half Shade Hardiness Zones: USDA Zones 6 to 11
Genus: Callicarpa Water Wants: Reasonable; Drought Tolerant Soil Wants: Wide selection of soils; Nicely-draining
Plant Sort: Deciduous woody shrub Top: 4 to 7 toes tall Pet Poisonous: No; crushed leaves might trigger dermatitis in some people
Bloom Colours: Pink, white, lavender Spacing: 5 to six toes aside Attracts: Bees, Birds, Butterflies

About American Beautyberry

Close-up of a branch of an American beautyberry bush in a sunny garden. The branch is arched, covered with large green ovate leaves with sawtooth edges, which are located oppositely along the stem. American beautyberry produces attractive clusters of berries that surround the stem. The berries are small, rounded, smooth, shiny, bright purple.
This native shrub has saw-toothed leaves, lilac flowers, and purple berries.

American beautyberry is a reasonably sized woody perennial shrub native to the central and southeastern United States, Bermuda, and Cuba. It has additionally been identified to develop in northern Mexico.

Different names embody American mulberry, French mulberry, sour-bush, bunchberry, and purple beauty-berry. It sports activities an reverse leaf association with leaves of saw-toothed margins. The flowers type in clusters that distinctly encircle the stem. Lilac flowers are current from Could to June. Purple, blue, or white berries develop from August to October.

The genus identify, Callicarpa, is derived from the Greek “callos,” which implies “magnificence,” and “carpos,” which implies “fruit.” There are about seven species within the genus, however solely the American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is native to the U.S.

When crushed, the leaves of beautyberry are mentioned to repel mosquitoes and different bugs as a result of presence of callicarpenol and intermedeol. Early twentieth century farmers have been recorded to crush beautyberry leaves and rub them below the harness and on the our bodies of labor horses and mules to stop assaults from biting bugs. Individuals additionally used the leaves on their our bodies for a similar objective.

Immediately, American beautyberries are planted within the panorama in hedgerows, native plantings, and pollinator gardens.

Why You Ought to Plant American Beautyberry

Close-up of branches of an American beautyberry bush in a sunny garden. The plant has long arcing branches covered with bright purple berries that cluster around the stems. The leaves are elliptical in shape, bright green with serrated edges.
American beautyberries are straightforward to look after and produce plentiful vibrant purple berries on tall arching branches.

American beautyberries are straightforward to look after. They bloom and set fruit on new development every year, so pruning is a breeze within the spring. Simply prune the outdated branches right down to 12 inches tall or much less, and also you’ll have lovely vibrant purple berries by Fall on lengthy arching branches that may attain 4 to 7 toes tall in a single season.


Close-up of a young American beautyberry bush in a sunny garden, among the grass. The bush is young, low, has several vertical stems covered with large green ovate leaves with sawtooth edges located oppositely along the stems. The stems have clusters of rounded shape, consisting of bright purple shiny rounded berries.
Take wholesome 4-6 inch softwood cuttings in spring, strip decrease leaves, dip in rooting hormone, and plant in a moist combine.

American beautyberries could be propagated through seeds or softwood cuttings.

Propagating From Seed

Every berry incorporates not less than 2 to three seeds which are 1/16 inch lengthy. To propagate by seed, plant the entire berry after crushing it between your fingers to show the seeds, or course of the berries to separate the seeds from the fruit.

Berries could be positioned in a blender with water. After mixing, permit the liquid to sit down. Viable seeds will sink to the underside, and the whole lot else could be skimmed off the highest and blended once more. Do that till the seeds are adequately separated. Drain the seeds and permit them to dry earlier than storing.

Plant the seeds straight into the soil in late fall or sow them in pots stuffed with moist peat and vermiculite-based combine. As soon as the seed germinates and the seedling has an adequately-sized, wholesome root system, you’ll be able to transplant it after frost.

Propagating From Cuttings

Softwood cuttings could be taken both within the spring or fall. Select a wholesome department of newer development not less than 4 to six inches lengthy.

Strip the decrease leaves and dip the underside of the stem in a rooting hormone to assist pace up the rooting of the chopping. Place the chopping in a ready pot stuffed with a moist peat-and-perlite-based combination. Poke a gap within the potting combine, place the chopping within the gap, after which gently agency the potting combine across the chopping.

Preserve the cuttings moist by putting them below a humidity dome till new development seems. It can often take cuttings about 3 to 4 weeks to root.

How one can Plant

Close-up of an American beautyberry bush in a sunny garden. The plant has an open and spreading growth, forming dense thickets of arcuate branches. The leaves of the American beauty are opposite, that is, they grow in pairs along the stems. The leaves are ovoid, bright green in color with serrated edges. The berries are small, rounded, shiny, pale purple, arranged in clusters around the stems.
Buy it as a small shrub from nurseries and area not less than 5 to six toes aside.

You may sometimes buy this plant at nurseries as a small shrub. Plant beautyberries not less than 5 to six toes aside to make sure satisfactory spacing between crops.

Plant the shrubs so the highest of the pot is even with the soil line. Beautyberries can thrive in nearly any sort of soil so long as it’s well-draining, so there may be no have to amend the soil except you’re planting in a sometimes waterlogged website.

Seeds could be sown within the fall or early spring. More often than not, stratification (a chilly interval) will not be wanted.

How one can Develop

As soon as established, this shrub is straightforward to develop and look after, with restricted illness and pest issues and new development yearly.


Close-up of a branch of an American beautyberry bush in the sun, in a garden. The stem has bright green-yellow ovate leaves with sawtooth edges. The stem is also surrounded by clusters of small glossy purple berries with a rounded shape.
American beautyberry thrives in full to half solar, requiring 4 to six hours of direct daylight every day.

This beautiful shrub requires full solar to half solar areas. It can want not less than 4 to six hours of direct daylight per day. In hotter climates, this shrub might profit from a little bit little bit of shade to stop scorching by the solar.

Don’t plant it in full shade as a result of it won’t thrive. Beautyberries might generally develop within the shade however won’t flower and fruit as they need to.


Close-up of a branch of an American beautyberry bush covered with water drops, in a garden. The plant has elliptical purple leaves with serrated edges. American beautyberry is famous for its attractive clusters of berries that surround the stem. The berries are small, round, purple.
This native shrub has average water wants and may tolerate drought.

It is a pretty drought-tolerant native shrub with average rainfall wants. It can additionally naturalize alongside streams and ponds if the world is well-draining.


Close-up of a branch of an American beautyberry bush in a garden in full sun. The plant has long stems with bright green leaves, elliptical in shape with sawtooth edges. Clusters of delicious bright berries grow around the stems. The berries are bright purple in color, tiny, round in shape, with a smooth and shiny texture.
It adapts properly to varied well-draining soil varieties.

This native beautyberry tolerates nearly any soil so long as it’s well-draining. It could additionally tolerate a variety of soil pH ranges (pH vary of 4.8 to 7.0).

Local weather & Temperature

Close-up of branches of an American beautyberry bush in a sunny garden. The plant has long branches covered with ovate green leaves with serrated edges, arranged oppositely along the stems. The stems have clusters of bright purple glossy rounded berries.
Beautyberries favor hotter zones (USDA zones 7 to 11) however can tolerate colder climates in USDA zone.

This genus prefers hotter rising zones. The shrubs are winter hardy in USDA zones 7 to 11. In some circumstances, they’ll survive in USDA zone 6.

The Japanese and Chinese language species of beautyberry (C. japonica, C. dichotoma, C. bodinieri) are mentioned to be extra chilly tolerant, with a hardiness as much as zone 5.

Regardless, the foliage doesn’t tolerate frosts properly, so this shrub is often later to leaf out within the spring. Some outdated branches and canes might survive over the winter however don’t anticipate all to get well. That’s the reason beautyberries are sometimes hard-pruned within the late winter and early spring.


Close-up of a branch of an American beautyberry bush in the garden. The branch has large dark green ovoid leaves with slightly serrated edges. Violet colored berries with a smooth, glossy texture grow in clusters that surround the stems for a visually stunning effect.
Keep away from over-fertilization to stop flowering and fruiting points.

Keep away from fertilizing as a result of too many vitamins will generally stop flowering and fruit set. This native plant is tolerant of poor soils, which makes this shrub comparatively low upkeep.


Close-up of clipped branches of an American beautyberry bush in the garden. Branches of different sizes, covered with colorful clusters of small round glossy purple berries. The leaves are oval, dark green with sawtooth edges.
Pruning is significant for rejuvenating and shaping the shrub.

Pruning is vital to rejuvenate the plant and to advertise a shapely look.

The beautyberry shrub blooms on new wooden (mainly, new development), so pruning practically to the bottom within the spring won’t stop flowering and fruit set. In reality, hard-pruning this shrub down to six to 12 inches in late winter is beneficial!

Some outdated canes will push out leaves if they aren’t pruned, however this typically leaves the bush with a scraggly, unkempt look.

Pests & Illnesses

Close-up of a branch of an American beautyberry bush affected by the black mold disease. The branch has oval, dark green leaves with serrated edges. The surface of the leaves is covered with spots of black mold. Clusters of small, round, bright purple berries grow around the stems.
It may be inclined to sure pests and illnesses, together with leaf spots and black mould.

There are just a few pests and illnesses that may have an effect on this shrub. In some circumstances, leaf spots or black mould could also be an issue.

Selling good air circulation by planting with satisfactory spacing between shrubs will assist stop illness points. Additionally, watering on the base of the plant or within the mornings will scale back foliage wetness, thus mitigating illness.

Makes use of or Widespread Planting Places

Close-up of a lush American beautyberry bush in a shady garden. It is a showy shrub with bright purple berries that cluster around the stems. It has an opposite arrangement of leaves with sawtooth edges, oval in shape, bright green in color.
These are versatile crops for hedgerows, native gardens, and pollinator gardens.

American beautyberries are finest utilized in hedgerow plantings, native plantings, and pollinator or butterfly gardens. The berries will typically keep on the plant for some time, making it an ideal plant for a winter backyard.

Beautyberries may additionally be utilized in reduce flower preparations when the berries type to offer colour and curiosity.

Should you’re thinking about a shrub that gives meals for wildlife, then American beautyberry could also be for you. The berries are eaten by over 40 totally different songbirds, together with the American Robin, Brown Thrasher, Purple Finch, and Jap Towhee. Armadillos, foxes, opossums, raccoons, and squirrels can even eat the berries. Deer will browse the berries after the leaves drop. Cattle have been identified to eat the twigs.

Not solely are beautyberries edible for wildlife, however the ripened berries are additionally utilized by people to make jellies, juices, and teas.

Different Species & Forms of Beautyberry

Close-up of a large plant Callicarpa americana var. lactea in sunny sdu. The plant is characterized by its white berries and features leaves similar to the American beautyberry, with opposite leaf arrangement and saw-toothed margins.
Callicarpa americana var. lactea is a spread that produces white berries.

Whereas C. americana is the native American beautyberry, just a few different species or hybrids of Callicarpa are value noting.

Callicarpa americana var. lactea is a variation of beautyberry with white berries as a substitute of purple or violet berries.

Commercially, just a few Callicarpa hybrids can be found in recent times, like ‘Purple Pearls’ and ‘Pearl Glam.’ What’s distinct about these cultivars is that they’ve lovely purple foliage.

Additionally commercially accessible is ‘Early Amethyst,’ which isn’t an American selection (C. americana) however moderately of the species Callicarpa dichotoma. ‘Duet’ is one other number of C. dichotoma that has variegated foliage.

C. dichotoma, C. japonica, and C. bodineri are all species of beautyberry which are native to Asia. Nonetheless, they’re very comparable in development habits to the American species and appear to be extra extensively accessible in commerce.

‘Luxurians’ is a wide range of Japanese beautyberry (C. japonica) that produces bigger clusters of fruit. ‘Leucocarpa’ is a white-fruited Japanese selection.

Often Requested Questions

No, American beautyberry is not poisonous to pets. Many wild animals, like deer, squirrels, and birds, wish to eat the berries. They are often an vital meals supply for wildlife.

American beautyberry is usually promoted as an understory plant as a result of it could possibly tolerate shade. Nonetheless, full shade conditions will typically scale back the quantity of flowers and foliage the plant produces. Go for websites in full solar to half shade when you can. In heat climates with intense daylight, it could be smart to plant partially shade so the plant doesn’t get scorched.

The crushed leaves of American beautyberry have been rubbed on the physique of each people and livestock animals over historical past to repel mosquitoes and different bugs. That is as a result of presence of some totally different compounds like callicarpenol and intermedeol. Be cautious when making use of, as some people have reported contact dermatitis.

Sure, the American beautyberry will lose its leaves within the winter. In reality, the leaves are notably delicate to frost, which is why this shrub is usually the final to push out new leaves within the spring. Nonetheless, this shrub supplies winter curiosity due to its vibrant purple to violet berries that persist properly into the autumn and winter.

Closing Ideas

Should you’re searching for a U.S. native shrub that’s straightforward to look after, pollinator and wildlife pleasant, and engaging, that is the plant for you! For my part, this shrub is usually neglected within the panorama.

The branches proliferate quickly into lovely arching sprays. The engaging purple (or, in some circumstances, white) berries persist properly into the winter. I’m all the time searching for engaging shrubs so as to add alongside my fence line that may develop quickly. These shrubs are so low upkeep and appropriate for a lot of soils and daylight conditions. Including them to the backyard is a no brainer!



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