American Beautyberry is a dazzling plant for your fall garden. It attracts birds and other wildlife who feast on its bright purple berries.
The post American Beautyberry: Fall’s Favorite Plant for Wildlife appeared first on Big Blog Of Gardening.American Beautyberry is a dazzling plant for your fall garden. It attracts birds and other wildlife who feast on its bright purple berries.
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American Beautyberry is a dazzling plant for your fall garden. It attracts birds and other wildlife who feast on its bright purple berries.

The bright berries of American Beautyberry are an important food source for wildlife in the fall.

In the spring, American Beautyberry is a reasonably unassuming but attractive woody perennial shrub. Slightly aromatic leaves appear on its upright, arching stems, followed by small flowers in late spring and summer that support many pollinators.

But in early fall, American Beautyberry transforms from run-of-the-mill to the star of the garden. Its foliage turns to light yellow and iridescent purple berries (drupes, technically) appear in its leaf axils. Some varieties have white, rose, or blue berries. As fall marches on, the leaves drop and the berries are left alone on the stems when there is little else to attract your eye in your fall garden. The berries persist well into winter unless eaten by wildlife like birds, foxes, opossums, and other mammals (which is usually the case).

Where and when to plant American Beautyberry

Native to the southeastern U.S., American Beautyberry can be grown in hardiness zones 7-11 and in zone 6B if winter is not too cold or the plant is protected from a deep freeze. In its native habitat, American Beautyberry is found growing in the open, in meadows, thickets, woodlands, or on the edges of swamps. In the home garden, American Beautyberry should be planted in spring in a sunny or lightly shaded area and in any soil that drains well and has plenty of organic matter. It cannot tolerate deep shade.

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American Beautyberry Maintenance

American Beautyberry has few needs or problems if planted in the correct location. In late winter or spring, remove old canes to rejuvenate the shrub for the showiest display of berries, as flowers and fruit appear on new shoots. If you want more compact growth, cut the shrub to 12″ above the base in late winter. If left alone it will become a naturally tall, woody shrub. During a summer drought, the shrub may defoliate and lose developing fruit.

American Beautyberry Characteristics

Official NameAmerican Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana).Plant TypeDeciduous shrub (loses leaves in winter).Plant familyLamiaceae (mint).Hardiness Zones6b-10 (may need some protection during cold winters in zone 6).Native rangeSoutheastern and central United States, Northern Mexico, Bermuda, Cuba.Height3-6 Feet (up to 9 feet in favorable conditions).Spread3-6 feet.SunFull sun to light shade (will not tolerate deep shade).Bloom TimeSmall lavender, white or pink flowers bloom throughout summer and support many pollinators.FruitAppear in fall. Usually purple, but some varieties are white, rose, or blue. Fruit production is more plentiful on shrubs in complete sun, and little fruit appears on plants in shade.MaintenanceLight. Little needs to be done after the plant is established.Water useLow (in its native area). Considered drought tolerant.BarkSmooth. Light brown on old wood, reddish brown on young wood. AttractsWild birds, raccoons, armadillos, opossums, squirrels, foxes eat the berries. Deer graze on the foliage.InterestBright purple berries persist through winter if not eaten by wildlife. ProblemsFew. Relatively pest and disease free.

See the video on American Beautyberry from North Carolina Sea Grant.

Sources: Missouri Botanical Garden, North Carolina State Extension, University of Florida, Clemson Cooperative Extension, Wikipedia.

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