Friday, October 1, 2010

What a beauty!(berry)

Beautyberry is an often overlooked plant at the garden center all season.  It's just a green bush most of the season.  You might notice some minuscule pink flowers in late July to August if you pay attention when you're standing or working next to it, but they certainly don't stand out.  As soon as mid-September hits, those flowers have turned to berries that quickly mature to a beautiful amethyst color.  There's nothing quite like it for fall fruit effect. 

There are a number of Callicarpa species (over 40) but only 4 are readily available.  The best species for us in the north is C. dichotoma, which is also becoming the most readily available.  The cultivars 'Issai' and 'Early Amethyst' are readily available to gardeners and have both performed well in zone 5.  In my gardens they reach 4' or less with a nice arching habit, and die back to the ground each winter.  There is also a white-fruiting form, 'Albofructa', and a selection which leafs out gold and changes green with the obvious name 'Spring Gold'; neither of which I have seen. 

C. japonica will also possibly grow in the north similarly to C. dichotoma.  There is a fantastic variegated selection that I will growing next season.  Similar size, habit, and hardiness to C. dichotoma.  C. japonica also dies back to the ground.

C. americana is the only US species I can find information on.  This one is less hardy, to zone 6, and I have not tried it.  I'm all for native plants though, and will give it a try some day.

C. bodnieri is represented in the trade by the variety 'Profusion'.  Though some attribute this variety to C. giraldii.  Either way it is also listed as zone 6 and I would like to give it a try some time.  This variety has larger leaves than the others, and great fruit set.  (another obvious name)

Give a beautyberry a spot in your garden, it's a great choice if you want to move beyone viburnums and crabapples for fall fruit effect.
C. dichotoma 'Issai' with Penstemon 'Dark Towers'

2 comments:

  1. So true...even though I've planned practically my whole garden to peak in the fall, I keep forgetting about these plants until I see them in someone else's garden, then kick myself for not getting one :-)

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  2. So go BUY one! :) Although easy to cram into a garden here, they will get a bit bigger on the west coast. On the other hand you can grow pretty much any species or variety you can find.

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