Garden Plants, How and where to grow them - Shrubs & Hedging

Berberis thunbergii - Shrub

A large group of deciduous shrubs that have a wide variety of attractions. Some have ornamental foliage, others wonderful autumnal colour, some flower beautifully and others produce decorative berries.

What they do all have in common is that they have spines that are often hidden just below the leaves. As well as their horticultural attractions, they therefore also are excellent as plants for enhancing security around a property, either as a hedge or as individual or groups of plants under vulnerable downstairs windows preventing access. The spines are small and not often immediately obvious, they are however very vicious.

They make good additions to a mixed border or can be used to provide a very attractive and effective mixed hedge. I have planted several ornamental security hedges made of a mixture of Berberis and Pyracantha varieties.

  • Height and spread: varies greatly according to variety from 1ft (30cm) to about 6ft (1.8m) tall, 1ft (30cm) to 8ft (2.5m) wide
  • Recommended varieties:
  • Atropurpurea Nana dwarf variety to about 60cm, 2ft. Red / purple foliage
  • Aurea, beautiful bright yellow young foliage.
  • Bagatelle, very compact 30cm, 1ft with deep red / purple foliage
  • Helmond Pillar, very upright variety to 1.5m, 5ft, red / purple foliage
  • Rose Glow, red purple leaves flecked with white as they age
  • Position: full sun or partial shade, variegated varieties develop the best colour in full sun, fruiting and autumn colour better in full sun
  • Soil: fairly unfussy
  • Rate of growth: medium
  • Other Features: make an excellent security hedge, or will help to protect an exposed downstairs window if planted below it.
  • Hardiness: fully hardy
  • Planting distance when used for hedging: 45cm, 18"
  • Number of times to clip per season and when: 1, summer
  • Clipped height: 60cm-1.2m, 2-4ft
  • Responds to renovation?: Yes, cut whole plant back to 30cm, 12" of ground in late winter to renovate
  • Pruning: Mid to late winter, cut out one in five shoots every year to within 30cm, 12" of the ground. Remove dead wood in summer when it is easily seen.

Photo credits: (numbering left to right top to bottom) 1-Beentree - Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license. / 2-Berberis Thunberga Selso at pl.wikipedia CC 2.5 SaSA / 3-Berberis thunbergii purple hedge Public domain / 4-Fanghong - Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. / 5-Jerzy Opiola - Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. / 6-Kor!An - Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

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