How to Grow Callicarpa — Beautyberry

Callicarpa japonica or Japanese beautyberry

Callicarpa–commonly known as Beautyberry–is grown for its colorful fruit rather than for flowers or foliage. The inconspicuous white or pink blossoms appear in midsummer. Tiny berries are borne in clusters along the stems in fall.

Get to Know Purple Callicarpa

  • Plant type: Deciduous fall-interest shrub
  • Growing Zones and range: Zones 5 to 8
  • Hardiness: Beautyberry tolerates smog and seaside conditions.
  • Height and width: 3’- 4’ tall and wide
  • Form and habit: Arching branches 
  • Foliage: Opposite simple leaves are mid-green
  • Flowers: Dense, axillary cymes or panicles of numerous tiny, white, pink, red, or purple flowers
  • Bloom time: Small flowers in late summer that turn into berries in fall.
  • Fruit: Clusters of small but often highly colorful, spherical, bead-like fruits, .06-.12 inch (2-3mm) across 
  • Uses: Excellent for cutting, colorful fall berries; ideal for shrub borders
  • Common name: Beautyberry
  • Botanical name: Callicarpa spp.
  • Family: Verbenaceae
  • Origin: Woodlands in tropical and subtropical regions

Where to Plant Callicarpa

  • Plant purple Callicarpa in full sun for best-formed berries. Light shade helps berries last longer.
  • Callicarpa will grow in nearly any soil.
Bodiniers beautyberry, Callicarpa bodinieri
Bodiniers beautyberry, Callicarpa bodinieri

When to Plant Callicarpa

  • Set established Callicarpa in spring or fall.

Planting and Spacing Callicarpa

  • Space Callicarpa 3 to 4 feet apart.
  • Fruit is more prolific during hot summer, if plants in groups.  

How to Water and Feed Callicarpa

  • Callicarpa needs moderate to ample water; keep the soil evenly moist.
  • There is no need to give Callicarpa extra fertilizer.

Callicarpa Care

  • Mulch around Callicarpa to keep the soil evenly moist.
  • Birds may eat berries. Place bird netting over the shrub to protect and save it for cutting.
  • In late winter or early spring, when it shows signs of new growth, trim back purple serviceberry from 6 to 12 inches from the ground. Hard pruning is necessary to ensure new blooming.
  • Rabbits will eat Callicarpa new growth.

Callicarpa Pests and Diseases

  • Callicarpa can develop cottony camellia scale, black mildew, dieback, leaf scorch, and fungal leaf spots. 

Callicarpa Propagation

  • Sow Callicarpa seeds in containers in a cold frame in autumn or spring. 
  • Root Callicarpa softwood cuttings in spring or semi-ripe cutting in summer.

Callicarpa Varieties to Grow

  • Callicarpa americana, American beautyberry, a coarse and open shrub native from Maryland to Florida, beautyberry can reach 8 feet (2.4m) tall and 6 feet (2m) wide, but regular pruning will hold it to half that. The oval, toothed, mid-green leaves may reach 6 inches (15cm) long. In early to late summer, tiny lavender-pink flowers appear in the leaf axils, followed by bright purple berry clusters. Zones 7 to 10.  
  • C. dichotoma, Purple beautyberry, dense, upright, deciduous shrub with ovate to elliptic, tapered, bright green leaves, to 4 inches (10cm) long. Pale pink flowers are borne in axillary cymes, .5-.75 inches (1-2cm) across, in summer, followed by bright purple fruit. To 4 feet (1.2m) tall and wide. China, Korea, Japan. Zones 6 to 9.  
  • C. japonica, bushy, deciduous shrub with narrowly oval to lance-shaped, tapered, light to mid-green leaves, to 5 inches (13cm) long. Pink or white flowers are borne in axillary cymes, to 1.25 inch (3cm) across, in late summer, followed by purple fruit. To 6 feet (2m) tall and wide. Zones 5 to 9.  
  • C. rubella, evergreen or semi-evergreen, erect, open shrub with obovate to lance-shaped, yellow-green leaves, 4-6 inches (10-15cm) long, and downy beneath. Bears axillary cymes, to 2 inches (5cm) across, of small, purplish pink flowers in summer, followed by bright pinkish purple fruit. To 3-10 feet (1-3m) tall and 3-6 feet (1-2m) wide. India to China, Malaysia.   

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