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Barberry Shrub

The Barberry shrub is a colorful plant specimen to enhance a variety of gardens or landscape areas. This plant is native to Japan, Europe, British Isles, China, Asia, and the United States. The shrub has some unique characteristics. The sharp spines become apparent when you touch them, and gloves should be warn.

This is one draw back of the plant, but there are other wonderful attributes that allow the shrub to show off its beauty. The plant may become leggy with age and should only be pruned at this time. Regular pruning may ruin the natural round form. There are many different Japanese varieties, but two of the most popular are the evergreen Wintergreen, and the Crimson Pygmy.

Vibrant Green And Burgundy Leaves

Close Up Of Barberry

Springtime Color

Crimson Color In Spring

After the flowers are done blooming, blue colored fruit will appear and remain on the shrub throughout the summer and winter months. This plant needs moist to well drained soil, and it is a good idea to have the soil slightly acid base. In the autumn this specimen erupts into a mass color of crimson, with red fruit encompassing the plant.

Leaves Changing Color

Close Up Barberry

Fall Foilage

Barberry Fall Foliage

Notice the changes in the color of this shrub from the rich crimson tone throughout the growing season to the different shades of orange, red, and yellow.

Question From Martha Hart, Denver Colorado

I have a hedge of red barberry in front of my house and would like to plant another row of shrubs in front of it. I have just removed a row of tired yellow spirea and would like to plant something a little more attractive in their place. Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

Herbee here.

This family is deciduous and an idea for you is to plant some smaller, or dwarf evergreen shrubs in front of them. A great way to incorporate year around color in your front yard. Here are a few options for you.

  1. Dwarf Hinoki Cypress - solid green
  2. Dwarf Arborvitae - solid green
  3. Mop Cypress - variegated yellow and green
  4. Ruby Chinese Pizazz (dwarf Loropetalum) - year around purple and green leaves with tiny pink to red tone flowers in spring and summer.
  5. Blue Star Juniper - teal tone slender needles
  6. Sunkist Arborvitae - variegated green and yellow
  7. Globosa Nana - rich green tone soft needle like leaves.

These are just a few suggestions. One thought for you if you want a little more color than just one other shrub. Intermingle a few of the above plants throughout the front garden.

You will not only have a good balance of color, you will also have some different texture. These shrubs are adaptable to your climate zone. If your don't care for any of these, make sure whatever dwarf or small shrubs your choose is the correct height and width to go in front of the Red variety.

Wintergreen Facts

The Wintergreen grows well in zones five through eight in the United States. The foliage is dark green, and will mature six to eight feet tall and six to eight feet wide.

The Wintergreen is an excellent plant for a hedge row and can be used along a foundation. I would not recommend this shrub in an area where children have access to. The shrub creates a wonderful look in a mass plant setting. In the winter, this plant is susceptible to wind burn in zone five. It should be protected. In the coastal and lower south, the Wintergreen needs some protection against the heat and humidity. The Wintergreen can take full sun to part shade. In the spring the Wintergreen shrub emerges with delicate yellow flowers.

Crimson Pygmy

The Crimson Pygmy variety is one of my favorites to design in a landscape area or a specific garden. The Crimson is considered a deciduous shrub and will do well in zones four through eight.

This is one of the most popular Japanese variety today. The Crimson will mature two to three feet high and three to four feet wide. It loves full sun but will survive in light shade.

Either variety of this family will create a great look around a decorative retaining wall, gazebo, in a rock garden, and around other outside features. The fruit from this shrub can be preserved or pickled, and the juice from the Barberry is medicinally known to help tone the gum area. Always remember to check with a professional before you ingest any part of a plant. Remember to plant it away from children. The Barberry is a excellent addition to your garden or landscape. Here is another question from a visitor. See what Herbee recommends.

Question From Lynn Lersch, Upstate New York

Barberry Deciduous Shrub red berries - are they poisonous to dogs?

We have the dwarf variety (about 3 ft tall) that has bronze red leaves in the Spring with a very insignificant white flower that blooms Mid Spring. The leaves turn to green during the summer and turn reddish again in the fall, producing a small oval shaped red berry.

My question is if ingested by canines, would this be poisonous? Or cause gastric type distress in a dog?

Lynn, Thank you for asking the question on the Barberry shrub.

A dog would have to ingest a large amount of the berries to cause serious physical reactions. The amount of berries would have to be in the hundreds. The leaves are the Barberry can cause mild indigestion, just as a dog eating grass. One of the things that will defer dogs from eating any part of the shrub is the sharp leaves of this plant. Hope this helps, Herbee.

Lynn followed up with another question about a different plant specimen. Good information, and more information on this specie below.

By: Lynn - Lily of the Valley Poisonous To Dogs?

Thanks. That is a big help. He often forages long grass around the house also, so could have gotten into most any of my perennial patches, some of which are poisonous.

How about the red seed that comes from Lily of the Valley? His episode was most severe, so am trying to figure it out, might not ever do that, but just investigating possibilities.

Hi Lynn, Thanks for the question on the Lily of the Valley.

Yes, all parts of the plant of Lily of the Valley are poisonous to dogs. Humans also can have reactions to this plant. The Lily of the Valley is a gorgeous specimen, but should be kept away from animals and humans.



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