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Berberis thunbergii

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© RHS 2003

Characteristics

Plant type

Shrub

Habit

Bushy

Toxicity

Ingestion may cause mild stomach upset

Resilience

Hardiness

old H4 (hardy)

Colour

Flower

Red and Yellow in Spring

Foliage

Green in Spring and Summer
Orange and Red in Autumn

Fruit

Red in Autumn

Size

Ultimate height

1-1.5 metres

Ultimate spread

1-1.5 metres

Time to ultimate height

10-20 years


Preferred common name

Japanese barberry

Family

Berberidaceae


Berberis can be deciduous or evergreen shrubs with spiny shoots bearing simple, often spine-toothed leaves, and small yellow or orange flowers in axillary clusters or racemes, followed by small berries

B. thunbergii is a spiny medium-sized deciduous shrub of compact habit. Leaves obovate, 2-3cm, turning red and orange in autumn. Flowers solitary, yellow, flushed red on sepals. Glossy bright scarlet berries

How to grow

Sunlight

  • Full sun
  • Part shade

Aspect

  • North-facing, South-facing, East-facing or West-facing
  • Exposed or Sheltered

Cultivation

Grows in any soil except waterlogged. A sunny position will encourage fruiting and autumn colour

Soil

  • Well-drained or Moist but well-drained
  • Acid, Alkaline or Neutral
  • Clay, Chalk, Sand or Loam

Propagation

Propagate by seed or from semi-hardwood cuttings

Suggested planting locations and garden types

Low Maintenance, Hedging/Screens, Banks and Slopes, Coastal or Cottage/Informal Garden


How to care

Pruning

Pruning group 8

Pests

Can be severely defoliated by sawflies

Diseases

May be infected by powdery mildews