Berberis: varieties, cultivation and care

Berberis: varieties, cultivation and care

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If we are looking for a genus of plants to constitute one hedge that is ornamental and pleasing to the eye but at the same time also protective, thick, anti-intrusion, the solution is Berberis. At least 500 plants are part of it, it is about evergreen shrubs that are very easy to grow and which look beautiful, they are not very tidy but not too wild to make us disfigure, a just imaginative shape as it should be when it comes to nature.

The good news is that the Berberis grows wild both in Europe than in Asia and America and you don't need to put much effort into keeping it in your garden. It has lovely leaves that can change color during the course of the year, from intense green of spring to the dark red of autumn. The flowers instead show off bright colors and by contrast with the foliage of this bush they are certainly visible. The berries appear after the flowers and are red, therefore no less noticeable.

Berberis: variety

There are many varieties within this genus, all elegant and rustic at the same time, and able to develop well in a country with our climate. Let's see a roundup of the most popular to observe their diversity

  • There Berberis vulgaris, also known as common barberry, it is perhaps the most widespread of all. It reaches three meters in height and has very developed, long and dark roots. On the surface it develops with very thorny and dense and not at all regular branches covered with leaves that can be alternate in bands, with a wide and shiny surface. The flowers appear in early spring, they are yellow and very ornamental, then come the very small berries, dark red in color and also edible for those wondering, even if they are not part of our diet. We can find the Barberry in Europe and in particular also in Italy, but also in Africa and where sub-Mediterranean forests grow up to 2000 meters above sea level.
  • There Berberis ottawensis it does not exceed one and a half meters in height and tends to develop in width, so it is necessary to calculate the distances between one plant and another when planting them. So low it can also be used to decorate flower beds or as a single plant to fill corners or spaces that are too empty. One of the most popular varieties is Berberis ottawensis auricoma which has wonderful purple leaves covering all the thorny branches.
  • There Aggregate Berberis, as tall as the previous variety, it is covered with flowers in spring, very small yellow flowers, which then give way to coral-colored berries. In the warm months of the year, this plant gives its best both as a hedge and as a bush.
  • There Berberis julianae it reaches up to two meters in height and in width it measures about one and a half meters. It has a dense crown made up of dark green leaves that form a nice contrast with the yellow flowers that sprout in spring while in summer the dark red berries appear.
  • There Berberis thumbergii it is a very easy plant to grow and many love the color of the leaves, bright and bright. It has a very compact bushy habit, does not develop in height beyond one meter and the average diameter is up to 50 centimeters.
  • ThereBerberis stenophyilla it is the queen in the month of April when the leaves show an intense green color and also the yellow flowers appear that form a colored cloud in our gardens. It is a variety widely used for hedges even if it does not grow beyond one meter and a half and in summer it is covered with black berries.
  • ThereBerberis verrucolosa it is very easy to recognize unlike the others because its branches are covered with brown growths. The flowers, however, are always yellow as in all other cases and give way to almost black berries. This is one of the most rustic species and can also be grown in areas that are not entirely favorable because it has a great ability to adapt, withstands drought and even low temperatures.

Berberis: flowering

The yellow flowers we have seen are a constant for all the varieties we have explored so far. The Berberis among all the hedges it is one of the one that has the better flowering both because of the color and the effect that such small and yellow petals make near the mass of leaves that are most often green. If we look closely at the flowers we can see that they are arranged in elongated or umbrella-like racemes and can have da 6 to 8 petals, yellow. There are different shades depending on the variety but always yellow.

Berberis: how to grow it

There are not many rules that need to be remembered to make Berberis grow well. One of the most important aspects is that of irrigation, which is especially necessary in the period following planting, transplanting and mulching during the winter.

We can also grow this plant in pots with a bottom of drainage material, arranging it before winter and providing for a series of repottings as the roots develop. On the ground it is easier and there are fewer things to remember, we can use it to create a uniform hedge or alternate them with other types of hedge plants to give more movement. To allow the seedlings to develop freely without suffocating each other, it is good to leave a distance of about 60-100 cm from each other and thus obtain a thick hedge.

As for the temperatures there are no problems because being a rustic plant it also bears the cold and wind, but we can possibly protect it with a well-compacted layer of mulch at the base of the plants. Their position can be of semi shade or sunny, while as regards the soil, it is better that it is acidic and can be enriched with mature manure before planting in the garden. No particular fertilization interventions are required but we can use a universal fertilizer slow release to be administered during autumn and March to ensure proper nutrition.

How much to water the Berberis

The amount of water needed depends a lot on the seasons, the one to be supplied immediately after planting is abundant while then you drop and regular watering making sure that the soil is always moist especially in summer. In winter, rainwater is enough.

Berberis: pruning

Equipped with some protection, given the numerous thorns that cover the branches, we can proceed with pruning operations about once every two years. The evergreen species are to be pruned after flowering while the deciduous ones in late summer, we proceed by eliminating dry or damaged branches to make room for the youngest.

Berberis: diseases

Aphids, which usually attack flowers and leaves, Oidium and Puccinia graminis, a fungus that causes visible spots on the leaves, are the three main enemies of the Berberis, a plant that is usually quite robust and resistant. We can prevent these problems by trying to water carefully without ever exceeding and possibly applying specific products.

Berberis: meaning

Given the many thorns, this plant in the language of flowers is associated with the concept of harshness and difficulty
In the language of flowers, precisely because of the characteristics of its berries, the meaning of harshness and difficulty is associated with Berberis. Its name instead derives from the Greek Berberi, "Seashell", due to the particular shape of the flower petals.

Berberis: price and where to buy it

If we want to make a hedge with this plant we can easily buy it about ten seedlings online with Amazon and then follow the signs to get our green and yellow wall.

You may also be interested in our article Barberry: plant and properties

Video: PlantHaven Video - Berberis Orange Rocket with Delana Bennett (July 2022).


  1. Farren

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  2. Arakus

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  3. Hardwin

    Sorry, but could you please give a little more information.

  4. Jamin

    you not the expert?

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