American Beauty Berry Bush
American Beauty Berry Bush produces small, somewhat inconspicuous pink-lavender flowers near the end of summer. The leaves, which are toothed and oval, turn golden or green-gold in the autumn before they fall, leaving a shrub full of berries. The shrubs grow to 4 to 6 feet and are as wide as they are tall. If they are given exemplary care, the American Beauty Berry can grow up to 10 feet. C. dichotoma is a bit smaller.
Even the name of this bush, Callicarpa means beautiful fruit, and this is true. The beauty berry bush produces grape-like clusters of purplish fruit that persist throughout the winter. Some varieties have white fruit. Three species are especially popular in the United States: C. Americana; C. bodinieri and C. dichotoma, from China and C. japonica from Japan. C. Americana, the American Beauty Berry does best in the south in hardiness zones 7 to 11. The other Asian species are colder tolerant and thrive in hardiness zones 5 to 8.
A healthy beauty berry bush lives a long time, grows fairly quickly and grows best in loose, loamy. well-drained soil. However, it is not overly fussy about the soil. It tolerates some shade but does best in full sun, where it can flower lavishly and produce lots of gorgeous berries. As the bush grows, the limbs arch into a cascading or weeping habit. It is best to prune the bush in early spring or late winter to support this habit.
Since the showy berries appear in fall, the beautyberry adds color and interest to a part of the garden where other plants and flowers are fading as the cold weather sets in. Wildlife also loves the berries, so the bush is good to plant if the gardener wants to attract birds and small mammals to their property.
The beauty berry bush is easy to grow from seeds and self-seeds rather abundantly if it is allowed to do so.