ShadyGardens Blog

September 28, 2012

Callicarpa Americana: American Beautyberry

If you like berries, American Beautyberry belongs in your garden. Callicarpa Americana, the American Beautyberry, is a deciduous shrub native to the Southeastern United States.

In early summer, tiny lilac flowers appear in clusters close to the stem. By autumn the flowers turn into bright magenta-violet purple berries. The beautyberries are ¼ inch drupes and packed tightly together in clusters that encircle the stem. Leaves usually turn a pale yellow shade in September and begin falling off the shrub soon after. Once the leaves are gone, the shrub is left with vividly purple berries encircling the bare naked stems until birds eat the berries sometime during the winter.

Callicarpa American Beautyberry
Shady Gardens Nursery

Callicarpa Americana is sometimes referred to as French Mulberry, although I cannot figure out why. I think the name American Beautyberry says it all. 

The Beautyberry is very easy to grow, thriving in any well-drained soil and even adapting to very poor soil. Plant in dappled shade beneath large oaks and pines. The edge of the woodland is ideal. 
Beautyberry is very drought tolerant once established, but water once or twice weekly the first year or two. After that, supplemental water is unnecessary, except perhaps in extreme drought. If the plant gets full sun, it will need more water.

Beautyberry can be grown in most areas of the United States, since it is hardy in USDA Zones 6-10.
Beautyberry is eye-catching either when massed or when planted as a single specimen in a woodland garden or shade garden. Callicarpa is great for a low maintenance natural garden where it contributes year round beauty and food for wildlife. Spring flowers and beautiful fall fruit make this an attractive landscape plant. Use it in semi-shade under tall pines or in full sun where foliage will take on a not unattractive yellow-green color that combines interestingly with the brilliant violet fruits.
Prune back severely in late winter for best berry production. I just cut back branches so all are about the same size and let my bushes grow large. However, Beautyberry can be kept small with an annual pruning in late winter or early spring. This shrub can be cut back as short as 4-6 inches tall every winter with no harm to the plant and without sacrifice of the berries.
To be sure your shrubs are loaded with berries, plant more than one of these beautiful plants.
And if purple is not your color, you might want to try one of the more rare forms.
Callicarpa Lactea has white berries instead of purple. I have encountered many a gardener requesting this shrub for their night garden. Plants with white berries or white blossoms really stand out at night while most other colors are barely visible. Additionally, white reflects the light from the moon. Can you imagine how lovely White Beautyberry would be in the floral arrangements for a Fall wedding? 


If you are partial to pink, you are in luck, because a rare pink-berried form has been discovered. Known as Callicarpa Sautee, it is named for the area in Florida where it was found. The Pink Beautyberry is perhaps the most rare form of all beautyberries. 

Once you see Callicarpa Americana loaded with berries, you will want one for your own garden.

October 27, 2011

Annabelle Hydrangea: A True Southern Belle

Filed under: annabelle, arborescens, bloom, flowers, Hydrangea, native, shrub, white — shadygardens @ 5:55 pm
Hydrangea Arborescens Annabelle
Annabelle Hydrangea is a selection of our native American hydrangea, Hydrangea Arborescens.

Despite what you might think when you observe the delicate appearance of Annabelle, she is one of the most versatile hydrangeas in the garden. Much hardier than Hydrangea macrophylla, Annabelle grows well in colder areas of the North as well as the deep South. Since she is hardy in USDA Zones 3-10, Annabelle can be grown all over the United States.

Huge showy white blooms can be up to 10 inches across and can literally cover the shrub in early summer.

Annabelle blooms on new growth, which is good news for those of us here in Georgia where late frosts can prevent macrophylla hydrangeas from blooming at all. If spent blooms are removed, Annabelle will display a second bloom in late summer.

Annabelle Hydrangea depicts qualities that one might expect from a true Southern Belle: quiet beauty, reserved gracefulness, and an unobtrusive nature.

Annabelle is dependable with her bloom. She can be trusted to bloom even in the hottest of summers and during our most severe drought. Buds will form no matter how cold the winter and no matter how slowly spring arrives.

Annabelle hydrangea does not require any sun, and blooms quite well in the shade beneath large trees.

Fall is the perfect time for planting all shrubs, including Annabelle Hydrangea. 

January 1, 2008

Daphne Odora: Rare Shrub for Winter Bloom

Filed under: aureomarginata, bloom, blooms, Daphne, dry, fragrant, garden, gardening, nursery, odora, pink, shade, variegated, white — shadygardens @ 2:29 pm

Daphne odora is one of the easiest shrubs to grow, yet is very difficult to find! Available with either white or pink blooms and variegated or solid green leaves, Daphne odora is probably the most fragrant shrub you can find. Not an overpowering scent, but a very pleasant one, described by some as being the scent of fruit loops, while others insist the fragrance is that of fresh lemons. What is perhaps most amazing about this shrub is that the blooms come at a very rare time for flowers–right in the middle of winter! Beautiful even when not in bloom, Daphne odora, despite its reputation, is surprisingly easy to grow. Daphne requires well-drained soil in shade. Give Daphne a try, and you’ll love it!


Daphne Odora Aureomarginata PINK

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