Beautyberry bears striking fruit and, depending on the species, show magnificent autumn foliage. We present this extraordinary species of shrub. The genus Callicarpa belongs to the verbena family (Verbenaceae). The approximately 100 species of the genus Callicarpa originate from the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Australia, and North and Central America.
The name “Callicarpa” is derived from the Greek word “kallíkarpos”, which roughly means “rich in beautiful fruits”. In our latitudes, the Beautyberry has been introduced as an ornamental shrub and there are about six species in propagation in nurseries. We will introduce you to this unusual shrub and give you tips on choosing varieties, planting, and caring.
Blossom, berries, and characteristics
The euphorbia is a shrub usually 2 to 3 m high, which in exceptional cases can reach a height of 4 m and can grow up to 2.5 m wide. The deciduous, opposite leaves of the species represented here are about 5 to 12 cm long and elliptically pointed. In autumn, the matt-green and rough foliage of the beautiful fruit turn light yellow to orange.
The numerous blossoms of the euphemism attract numerous bumblebees, hoverflies, and bees during the flowering period from June to August. The stalked, light purple inflorescences on the biennial wood in the leaf axils of the plant can already be seen on young plants. The initially light green fruits need some time to develop and only in autumn, the shrub presents itself with its purple Beautyberry like stone fruits.
In the meantime, there are also white-fruity varieties of euphoric fruits on the market. They have a glossy surface, can grow up to 4 mm thick, and appear in cones. In the garden, euphoric shrubs are eye candy that quickly attracts all eyes. The striking blue, purple or white-colored drupes of the shrub stand on the bare branch until about December and thus form a color accent in the winter landscape. As a bird food wood, the fruits of the beautiful fruit offer additional food in winter.
The most popular types and varieties of Callicarpa
There are different species and varieties of euphoric shrubs to choose from. We introduce you to the best species and varieties of Beautyberry.
- Callicarpa Americana: American euphorbia with a growth height of 1.8 to 2.4 m and felt-hairy leaves. The fruits are reddish-purple and appear in cones.
- Callicarpa bodinieri ˈMagical Purple Giant or Purple Beautyberryˈ: Up to 3 m high shrub with light violet fruits and red-orange autumn coloring.
- Callicarpa bodinieri ˈProfusionˈ: shrub with 2 to 4 m height and up to 2.5 m widths. Deciduous shrub and light yellow to orange in autumn.
- Callicarpa dichotoma ˈIssaiˈ: Filigree and slow-growing shrub, 2 m high, and 1.5 m wide. A good hardy variety with small, red-violet fruits and purple autumn color.
- Callicarpa giraldii: Chinese beauty fruit with 2 to 3 m height and width. Forms about 4 mm large, shiny purple fruits in autumn.
- Callicarpa japonica ˈLeucocarpaˈ:Japanese euphemism with a growth height and width of 1.5 to 2.5 m. This shrub produces white fruits, which stand out particularly strikingly from the deciduous foliage.
Is the Beautyberry Poisonous?
The pretty fruits of the Beautyberry are poisonous to humans and pets like cats or dogs. So the fairy tale fruit is not edible – but especially small children can be attracted by the colorful fruits. So if small children often play in the garden without supervision, one should refrain from planting a peach. The berry-shaped stone fruits of the Beautyberry are edible for birds and some species like to use them in winter.
One should pay attention to it
As with most shrubs, the best time to plant a beautiful fruit is in late autumn – from October to November – or in early spring in March. The Beautyberry can be planted individually as a large shrub. If the fertilization and thus the fruit set should be better, you can also plant several plants together, with a distance of about 2 meters to each other.
The ideal location for the Beautyberry is sunny and sheltered on light to medium-heavy and evenly moist, acidic to slightly acidic soils. The shrub hardly grows at all on clearly calcareous sites and dies after a few meager years. Even with an acidic substrate, these soils are difficult to make suitable, as the roots reach mainly into the depths where they quickly encounter calcareous soil again.
With the help of acidic potting soil, such as rhododendron substrate, at least neutral or slightly alkaline soils can be made suitable for the Beautyberry. Before planting, first, loosen up the soil over a large area and work in acidic soil as required. The acidic substrate should be spread out deep in the future planting hole, as the Beautyberry Shrub forms barely branched roots and above all vertical roots that hardly spread out to the sides.
Now place your Beautyberry bushes in the prepared planting hole, fill it with soil, press it well, and then water vigorously. In this way, the roots of the Callicarpa will come into contact with the soil and can grow well. When planting new plants in late autumn and young shrubs up to the third year of growth, make sure you have good winter protection.
Summary Planting Beautyberry:
- Planting time: Late autumn or early spring
- Location: Sunny and sheltered
- Soil: acidic to slightly acidic
- Planting distance: About 2 meters
The Beautyberry is a rather easy-care shrub and is therefore also well suited for beginners in gardening. We give tips on the most important care measures, on fertilization as well as on how to cut the beautiful fruit.
Watering and fertilizing the peach
The beauty fruit prefers an even water supply and must never be completely dry, even in midsummer. Water especially young plants in hot summers in the morning and cover the soil under the shrub with a mulch layer of bark mulch, plant cuttings, or leaves to reduce evaporation. Established, older shrubs can usually do without additional watering.
The situation is different in a pot because here watering must be done regularly and on the other hand, waterlogging must be prevented utilizing a 3 to 5 cm thick drainage layer and good water drainage. In general, the Beautyberry does not need extra fertilization. The predominantly organic fertilizer granulate is slowly decomposed by soil organisms and thus releases its nutrients for the plant roots over a long period of time.
The Beautyberry shrub is well tolerated by cuttings and can be cut back slightly immediately after flowering to keep it in shape. If the shrubs become too large and start to balding or hardly bloom at all, they should be cut back strongly. This pruning, necessary approximately every three to four years, by about half of the branch length, can be done during the dormant period of the Beautyberry between November and the beginning of March.
Branches that are too long, glabrous, growing inwards, or even damaged by frost should be cut off with sharp garden shears. After pruning, the Beautyberry sprouts freshly and will only bear blossoms and fruit on the biennial wood again the following year.
Beautyberry shrubse can be propagated by sowing and cutting. The berry-shaped drupes contain the seeds of the Beautyberry Sowing can be done indoors all year round. Soak the seeds of the Beautyberry in lukewarm water for about 24 hours. Now sow the soaked seeds about 1 cm deep into the soil, moisten them well and let them germinate at about 20 °C. The Beautyberry needs about two to three weeks to germinate at constant humidity and heat. After a few weeks, the first real leaves appear and the plants can be repotted or planted outdoors.
Young, annual shoots of the beautiful fruit can be cut in June and August for cuttings. Cut annual shoots without berries to a length of about 10 cm, remove all leaves except the uppermost ones and place the shoots in a container filled with a mixture of soil and one-third sand. Only the uppermost leaves and about 1 cm stem should stick out of the soil. Keep the soil well moist over the next few weeks and place the cuttings in a cool and bright place at about 10 to 15 °C. The rooted fairy bushes spend the winter in the house frost-free and with an economical water supply. The Beautyberry is not planted out until the following spring.
Is the Beautyberry hardy?
In our garden, the Beautyberry is mostly winter-hardy. Many varieties, such as Callicarpa dichotoma ˈIssaiˈ, can tolerate colder temperatures down to -20°C. However, cold winters, as they can also occur in our country, are particularly hard on young fairy bushes. Here a large part of the shrub can freeze back.
The plants are therefore grateful for winter protection of leaves and compost on the ground and a fleece or jute covering of the above-ground part of young and freshly planted shrubs. From about the third year of planting, all fairy bushes are winter-hardy. Beautyberry is a pot that should be wintered frost-free in a summer house or shed because there is a risk that the soil in the pot, including the sensitive roots, will freeze through and the whole plant will die.