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Berberis thunbergii
Berberis thunbergii

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Zone
Zones A3, 2B, 3-24, 29-41
Full SunPartial Sun
Full, Partial
Regular Water
Moderate

Berberis thunbergii

Japanese Barberry
Berberidaceae
Deciduous, Shrubs, Decorative fruit or berries

BERBERIS

These dense, spiny-stemmed plants, especially the deciduous species, tolerate climate and soil extremes. Require no more than ordinary garden care. Each year, thin out oldest wood and prune as needed to shape—after bloom for evergreen and semievergreen types, late in the dormant season for deciduous kinds. They make attractive hedges. Informal style is best for species grown for spring flowers (yellow, unless otherwise noted) and ensuing berries, which are borne on previous year’s growth; species grown for foliage can be sheared. To rejuvenate overgrown or neglected plants, cut them to within a foot of the ground before new spring growth begins.

Closely related to and sometimes grouped by botanists with Mahonia.

Berberis thunbergii

Japanese native hardy to –20°F/–29°C. Graceful habit with slender, arching, spiny branches; if not sheared, usually reaches 4–6 ft. tall with equal spread. Densely covered with roundish, 1/2–1 1/2-in.-long leaves that are deep green above, paler beneath; leaves turn yellow, orange, and red before they drop in autumn. Beadlike bright red berries stud branches in fall and through winter. Use as hedge, barrier planting, or specimen shrub. Many attractive varieties are grown for their vivid foliage color.

'Atropurpurea'

Plants sold as such vary in plant size and foliage color (from bronzy red to purple red). They must have sun to develop red color (which they will hold all summer).

'Cherry Bomb'

Resembles ‘Crimson Pygmy’ but is taller (to 4 ft.), with larger leaves and more open growth.

'Crimson Pygmy'

Selected miniature form, generally less than 1 1/2 ft. high and 2 1/2 ft. wide at 10 years old. Leaves are bright red when new, maturing to bronzy blood red. Must have sun to develop good color.

Berberis thunbergii 'Golden Nugget'
Berberis thunbergii 'Golden Nugget'

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'Golden Nugget'

Dwarf selection reaching 1–1 1/2 ft. tall and wide, with golden leaves that may be tinged orange. More sun tolerant than other yellow barberries.

'Helmond Pillar'

Purple-leafed form to 4–5 ft. tall, just 2 ft.wide.

'Kobold'

Extra-dwarf, bright green variety that grows slowly into a full, rounded shape about 18 in. tall and 2–3 ft. tall.

Berberis thunbergii 'Limeglow', photo courtesy of Doreen L. Wynja
Berberis thunbergii 'Limeglow', photo courtesy of Doreen L. Wynja

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'Limeglow'

Grows 5 ft. tall,slightly less wide. New growthlime green against darker green mature foliage. Doesn’t sunburn. Red-orange fall color.

Berberis thunbergii 'Rose Glow'
Berberis thunbergii 'Rose Glow'

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'Rose Glow'

Grows 4–6 ft. tall and wide. New foliage is marbled with bronzy red and pinkish white, deepening to rose and bronze with age. For best color, plant in full sun or lightest shade.

'Royal Cloak'

Compact, mounding to 4 ft. high and at least as wide. Large, dark purple-red leaves.

'Sunsation'

Compact, upright to 3–4 ft. tall and wide. New growth is greenish gold, maturing to bright golden yellow.

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Berberis thunbergii 'Golden Nugget'

Dwarf selection reaching 1–1 1/2 ft. tall and wide, with golden leaves that may be tinged orange...

Berberis thunbergii 'Royal Cloak'

Compact, mounding to 4 ft. high and at least as wide. Large, dark purple-red leaves.

Berberis thunbergii 'Atropurpurea'

Plants sold as such vary in plant size and foliage color (from bronzy red to purple red). They must ha...

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