December 2, 2017
I saw your article with the picture of the beauty berry bush. We have a native beauty berry bush behind our bird feeder. During the summer we see many birds, but never a robin. However, for the last two years in the fall a huge flock of robins has come through. They stay for a few days, and eat all the berries off the bush. Then they leave. We think this is strange. The other birds don’t seem to care for the berries.
According to the Audubon Society, the fruits of the beautyberry are eaten by a wide variety of birds, including robins, but cardinals, wrens and many more. Maybe your robins are being bullies and keeping the other birds at bay.
August 26, 2017
A friend of mine showed me pictures of her beauty bush last year with beautiful purple berries. Her plant is loaded with fruit now too but the berries are still green. Where can buy one? Does it need sun or shade?
Beautybush or French mulberry are the common names for Callicarpa. Many nurseries now carry them. Call your local nursery and see if they have them or can get you one. If your friend has a well-established plant, you could also transplant a sucker from it this fall or early winter. It does well in full sun to partial shade.
Last weekend we were out hiking and saw the most unusual bush. I didn’t have my camera with me, but I am hoping you can figure it out from my description. It had oval green leaves, and then up and down the stem at about 4 inch intervals were clusters of bright purple berries, completely circling the stem. Any ideas? If you know what it is, where can I buy one and what kind of conditions does it need to grow well?
The plant in question is a beautyberry or French mulberry— Callicarpa americana. It is a native plant that is a tough performer in both full sun to partial shade. Some nurseries do carry the native species, while others sell newer cultivars. There are plants with light purple and white berries also, but I personally love the bright purple. Give it a few weeks and the deciduous leaves will start to turn yellow and the combination of yellow and purple is eye catching. If you know someone who has one they are often willing to share, since it propagates readily. Plan to come to the plant sale at Garvan Gardens in Hot Springs, October 7 & 8. They always sell them. We are also sponsoring a New Plants Workshop at the Gardens on Friday, Oct. 7. For more information and to pre-register call (800) 366-4664.
My Beautyberry bushes need to be cut back. How and when should this be done?
Beautyberry or French Mulberry (Callicarpa species) bloom on the new growth, so they can be cut back as much or as little as you like before new growth kicks into high gear. Pruning should not impact flowering—and thus berry set, if you get it done early enough. I would suggest pruning in late February to early March.
I finally found out what my purple berried plant was from reading your article. I have a beautyberry or French mulberry, but it is growing in a bad location. When is the best time to move it?
Callicarpa americana or beautyberry, is a tough native. It can be moved anytime from November through February. Make sure you water it and mulch, and it should come through fine. If it has multiple crowns, you could also divide it when you move it to increase the number of plants you have.
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