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The Plant Guide

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Red Japanese barberry

Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea

BER-ber-iss thun-BER-jee-eye forma at-tro-per-per-EE-ah

Red Japanese barberry is a deciduous shrub with multi-season interest. Most striking are the deep reddish purple inch-long leaves. In spring, scented yellow flowers appear on arching stems. This barberry is an excellent hedge pland, and it also looks good in the middle to rear of beds and borders. Watch out for the brittle, three-pronged thorns. -Gerald Gibbens, Regional Picks: Northwest, Fine Gardening issue#120

Noteworthy CharacteristicsReddish purple leaves; fragrant flowers; thorny stems. Japanese barberry is listed as an invasive plant for much of the U.S.

CareProvide full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil. Each year, before new growth appears, prune on the oldest stems to maintain the plant's proportions. Beware of the thorns.

ProblemsNothing serious.

  • Genus : Berberis
  • Plant Width : 3 to 6 feet
  • Zones : 5, 6, 7, 8
  • Plant Height : 6 to 10 feet
  • Moisture : Dry to Medium
  • Bloom Time : Early Spring, Late Spring, Spring
  • Growth Rate : Fast
  • Characteristics : Fragrant Flowers, Showy Foliage
  • Light : Full Sun to Partial Shade
  • Maintenance : Low
  • Foliage Color : Purple/Burgundy
  • Plant Type : Shrubs
  • Plant Seasonal Interest : Spring Interest
  • Flower Color : Yellow
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