This easy-going shrub sparkles during the cooler months. Here are some eye-catching varieties to grow at home.

By Melissa Ozawa
September 23, 2020
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the native C. americana beautyberry shrub
Credit: GAP PHOTOS/VISIONS

As its common name implies, Callicarpa, referred to as beautyberry, stands out quite beautifully this time of year, when its branches pop with amethyst or pearly-white ornamental berries. "It's an all-star plant, but not one that many people know," says Adam Wheeler, horticultural manager at Broken Arrow Nursery, in Hamden, Connecticut. He suggests planting it in a spot with well-drained, evenly moist soil and ample light. (It grows fine in part-shade, but produces more flowers and fruit in full sun.)

Prune shrubs to just 18 inches high in early spring if they start to look messy. The rejuvenating haircut will lead to a tidier plant and even more berries later. Here, some of our favorite varieties to grow at home (like the native C. americanais, above, a pollinator's paradise. Birds love to nest in its arching branches and snack on the fruits, which cling, as with all beautyberries, long after the leaves fall off), so you can experience this shrub's beauty on your own.

shrub varieties leaves on purple background
Credit: Bryan Gardner

1. Spring Gold

In spring, the leaves of Callicarpa dichotoma 'Spring Gold' emerge yellow, then turn a vivid green before maturing to a golden hue in fall and bursting with violet berries.

2. Leucocarpa

The compact C. japonica 'Leucocarpa' displays a profusion of pale fruit, which can discolor after a freeze-and-thaw cycle.

3. Heavy Berry

As its name suggests, C. japonica 'Heavy Berry' produces copious clusters of plum-colored berries after its tiny but fragrant flowers bloom in summer.

4. Duet

A newer cultivar, C. dichotoma var. albafructus 'Duet' has an upright, rounded silhouette, with small, white-edged leaves and tiny ivory fruit.

5. Early Amethyst

You'll smell the graceful, sweetly scented flowers of C. dichotoma 'Early Amethyst' before you see it. It's also one of the first to produce fruit, starting in late summer.

6. Splashy

Lightly dotted with delicate bright-purple berries, the rare C. dichotoma 'Splashy' sports leaves that look as if they're splattered with creamy paint.

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