How to Plant, Grow and Care For American Beautyberry

A quick-growing, enticing, and wildlife-friendly shrub? You might have by no means heard of the American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), but it surely checks all of the packing containers. It may develop 4 to 7 ft (and generally 10 ft!) 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 be taught extra!

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

About American Beautyberry

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 recognized to develop in northern Mexico.

Different names embrace 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 Might to June. Purple, blue, or white berries develop from August to October.

The genus identify, Callicarpa, is derived from the Greek “callos,” which suggests “magnificence,” and “carpos,” which suggests “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 stated to repel mosquitoes and different bugs as a result of presence of callicarpenol and intermedeol. Early twentieth century farmers had been recorded to crush beautyberry leaves and rub them below the harness and on the our bodies of labor horses and mules to forestall assaults from biting bugs. Individuals additionally used the leaves on their our bodies for a similar goal.

At this time, 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 considerable shiny 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 shiny purple berries by Fall on lengthy arching branches that may attain 4 to 7 ft 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 no 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, enable the liquid to take a seat. Viable seeds will sink to the underside, and every thing 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 instantly 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 possibly can 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 no 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 slicing. Place the slicing in a ready pot stuffed with a moist peat-and-perlite-based combination. Poke a gap within the potting combine, place the slicing within the gap, after which gently agency the potting combine across the slicing.

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

The right way to 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 house no less than 5 to six ft aside.

You possibly can sometimes buy this plant at nurseries as a small shrub. Plant beautyberries no less than 5 to six ft aside to make sure sufficient 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 must amend the soil until 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.

The right way to Develop

As soon as established, this shrub is simple 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 places. It would want no less than 4 to six hours of direct daylight per day. In hotter climates, this shrub might profit from just a little little bit of shade to forestall 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 might tolerate drought.

This can be a pretty drought-tolerant native shrub with average rainfall wants. It would additionally naturalize alongside streams and ponds if the realm 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 nicely to varied well-draining soil sorts.

This native beautyberry tolerates nearly any soil so long as it’s well-draining. It may 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 choose 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 will survive in USDA zone 6.

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

Regardless, the foliage doesn’t tolerate frosts nicely, 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 better. 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 forestall flowering and fruiting points.

Keep away from fertilizing as a result of too many vitamins will generally forestall 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 essential 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 forestall flowering and fruit set. In truth, hard-pruning this shrub down to six to 12 inches in late winter is advisable!

Some outdated canes will push out leaves if they don’t seem to be pruned, however this usually 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 prone to sure pests and illnesses, together with leaf spots and black mould.

There are a number of 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 sufficient spacing between shrubs will assist forestall 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 usually keep on the plant for some time, making it an important plant for a winter backyard.

Beautyberries might also be utilized in minimize flower preparations when the berries type to supply coloration and curiosity.

For those who’re inquisitive about a shrub that gives meals for wildlife, then American beautyberry could also be for you. The berries are eaten by over 40 completely different songbirds, together with the American Robin, Brown Thrasher, Purple Finch, and Jap Towhee. Armadillos, foxes, opossums, raccoons, and squirrels may even eat the berries. Deer will browse the berries after the leaves drop. Cattle have been recognized 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 range that produces white berries.

Whereas C. americana is the native American beautyberry, a number of different species or hybrids of Callicarpa are price noting.

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

Commercially, a number of 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 obtainable is ‘Early Amethyst,’ which isn’t an American selection (C. americana) however quite 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 obtainable 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.

Incessantly Requested Questions

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

American beautyberry is usually promoted as an understory plant as a result of it may well tolerate shade. Nonetheless, full shade conditions will usually scale back the quantity of flowers and foliage the plant produces. Go for websites in full solar to half shade if you happen to can. In heat climates with intense daylight, it could be clever to plant partly 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 completely 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 truth, the leaves are notably delicate to frost, which is why this shrub is typically the final to push out new leaves within the spring. Nonetheless, this shrub offers winter curiosity due to its shiny purple to violet berries that persist nicely into the autumn and winter.

Last Ideas

For those who’re in search of a U.S. native shrub that’s straightforward to look after, pollinator and wildlife pleasant, and enticing, 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 enticing purple (or, in some circumstances, white) berries persist nicely into the winter. I’m at all times in search of enticing 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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