Berberis is not always well loved by gardeners but it is a mistake to overlook or deride this useful and often attractive, easy to grow plant. There are many different sorts of berberis and most are fully hardy. These are the kind of useful shrub that you can simply leave to get on with it. There is a great variety in terms of the colours and shapes of the berberis shrubs and their leaves, flowers and berries, so you are sure to be able to find one that you find attractive.

Growing berberis:

Berberis shrubs will grow well in full sun or in partial shade. Growing in a sunny position you will find that the berberis puts on a better show of fruit and better autumn colouration will be achieved. They can cope with a lot when it comes to their location and will grow well in all soil types and at all pH levels. The only thing berberis do not cope well with is waterlogging – it can cope with just about everything else that conditions can throw at it.

You will be able to find a wide variety of berberis shrubs on sale at garden centres and plant nurseries or online, though you can also, if you wish, propagate these shrubs by seed or semi-hardwood cuttings.

Berberis can be grown in sheltered or exposed conditions and can be used to form hedging in areas where security may be an issue and can be used as shelters or wind-breaks in locations which experience harsh weather from a particular direction.

Some berberis are evergreen and others are deciduous and the varieties can vary greatly in other ways too so you should be sure to choose the correct shrub for your tastes and requirements.

It should be noted that the berries are not edible and may give a mild stomach upset if ingested. Gardeners should also beware as their pricks can be sharp.

The main pest that can cause problems for berberis is the sawfly, which can severely defoliate the plant in cases of serious infestation. Powdery mildew can also sometimes be a problem.

Why grow berberis in the garden?

Berberis are a great low-maintenance shrub and can be happily left to their own devices in a corner of your garden. This means they are fantastic for wildlife and low-maintenance gardens and can provide year round interest without year round effort.

The prickles can add to security and may also help deter foxes or other unwanted wildlife from your garden if planted in a thick, dense hedge.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Berberis vulgares