Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) Profile

Written by Iris

Nov 13 2021

Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) Profile
Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) grows in thick woods and brush in east Texas, especially in coastal plain pine forests. Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) begins the summer with small, inconspicuous greenish-white flowers, but is followed by clusters of beautiful purple berries clinging to the branches in late summer. Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) works best in semi-shade with a certain amount of moisture. If it is watered, Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) can tolerate plenty of sunlight and can tolerate some drought.

Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) Picture


Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) Info

Botanical Name Callicarpa americana
Common Name American beautyberry, beautyberry, French mulberry
Plant Type Perennial shrub
Mature Size 3 to 6 feet tall and wide
Sun Exposure Full sun to partial shade
Soil Type Moist, rich
Soil pH 5 to 7
Bloom Time Late spring to midsummer

Ecological Habits of Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

The Beautyberry shrub prefers full sun and is intolerant of deep shade. Beautyberry will grow in all types of soil provided there is good drainage. Allow 3 to 6 feet of space for planting unless regular pruning is done. Pruning is best done in late winter. Beautyberry is recommended that old canes be removed for rejuvenation of the shrub because the flowers and fruits appear on new shoots. Beautyberry can be propagated by seeds or stem cuttings.
Beautyberry's native habitat is open meadows, thickets, or woodlands. In the spring, green leaves emerge on upright arching stems. Clusters of small flowers bloom on the stems during the late spring and early summer. Clusters of purplish to bluish berries develop August through October and encircle the stem.

Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) Distribution Area

The native range of Callicarpa americana extends from Maryland to Florida, west to Texas and Arkansas, and also Mexico, Bermuda, the Bahamas and Cuba.

How to Grow and Care for Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

How to Grow Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

  • With Seeds
If growing from seed, soak the seeds in clean, cool water for 24 hours. If you want to start seeds indoors, sow 1/16-inch deep in small pots or seedling trays filled with seed-starter potting mix.  Place trays or pots in a warm, sunny area. Keep the soil lightly moist via a spray-bottle mister until the seedlings are transplant size, about three months after sowing. This plant also liberally reseeds itself. For direct sowing, you can sow seeds in fall, before first frost or in spring, after all danger of frost has passed.
  • With Cuttings
You can propagate beautyberry from softwood cuttings in spring. Softwood is a stem that is not brand new nor old and woody. Cut four- to six-inch stems from a healthy plant. Fill small pots with an all-purpose soil mix and insert and remove a pencil to create a hole for the cutting. Remove the lower leaves from your cutting, dip the cleanly cut end into rooting hormone and place in the hole. Create a mini greenhouse by placing a plastic dome or clear plastic bag over the pot or pots. Put it in bright, indirect light.

How to Care for Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

  • Light
Beautyberry plants prefer full to partial sun. While they produce more berries in full sun, beautyberry is naturally suited to the edges of woodland areas. The more sun plants receive, the more water they will need.
  • Soil
Beautyberry are not to finicky regarding soil type. That said, they prefer a moist but well drained soil of average fertility. As with many other ornamental plants, a constantly wet soil can be problematic. Beautyberry grow best in an acid to neutral soil ranging from 5.0 to 7.0 on the pH scale. Most average garden soils fall between a pH range of 6.0 to 7.0.
  • Water
Although established beautyberries can tolerate some drought, under extreme conditions they may drop their leaves and berries to compensate for the lack of moisture. For the best performance, be sure to maintain consistent soil moisture, giving your shrubs about an inch of water per week during prolonged dry spells. (Find more fall flowers here.)
  • Temperature and Humidity
Beautyberry shrubs thrive throughout their hardiness zones and don't have any particular temperature or humidity requirements. A layer of mulch around the base of the shrub can help to keep its roots at a consistent temperature, which will benefit the shrub's overall health.
  • Fertilizer
Feed the beautyberry shrub a complete 16-4-8 fertilizer in the spring and about midsummer. Lightly sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of fertilizer around the shrub, staying about 6 inches away from the plant and spreading the product out just beyond the drip line.
  • Pruning
Prune the shrub in late winter or early spring before new growth appears. Use hand pruners or lopping shears to remove damaged or dead branches, cut out old wood and thin out crowded interiors. Cut off branches about 1/4 inch above buds or lateral branches.
Sanitize pruning tools between each cut by dipping them into a solution of 1 part household bleach and 9 parts water. Although beautyberry bushes generally don't suffer from insect infestations or plant diseases, sanitary tools help prevent spreading the occasional problem.
  • Spacing
When planting beautyberry, give it plenty of room to sprawl. The weight of the berries often cause the shrub's flexible branches to bend, which can shade or crowd nearby plantings. As a general rule of thumb, space plants about 5 to 7 feet apart.

Uses of Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

Landscape Uses
Whether you refer to it as Callicarpa or its more common names of French mulberry or beautyberry, this plant is probably not used often enough in the landscape. It is an ideal choice for a shrub or mixed border or even as a loose hedge. As the featured plant in an autumn container garden, beautyberry is stunning when the fruit display is at its peak. Beautyberry will also tolerate moist sites and can be successfully used in rain gardens. While Beautyberry can be used as a single specimen, you’ll get a better display of fruit if you plant them in groups.
Beautyberry fruits are high in moisture and are an important source of food for many species of birds, including mockingbirds, robins, bobwhite quails, and towhees. Foxes, opossums, raccoons, squirrels, other small rodents, and deer may consume the fruit in the fall after leaf drop. While the berries may last into the winter months, hungry wildlife may strip the berries off in the absence of other suitable food.

Varieties of Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

Besides the American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), some other species of beautyberry include:
'Bodinier's beautyberry' (Callicarpa bodinieri): Bodinier's beautyberry is native to China and grows to around 10 feet tall by 8 feet wide. Like the American beautyberry, Bodinier's beautyberry also produces purple berries. But Bodinier's beautyberry is more cold tolerant than the American version.
'Japanese beautyberry' (Callicarpa japonica): This shrub is native to Japan and reaches around 4 to 6 feet tall and wide. Japanese beautyberry produces clusters of bright purple berries.
'Chinese beautyberry' (Callicarpa dichotoma): This shrub is native to China, Japan, and Korea, and it too produces purple fruits. chinese beautyberry reaches between 2 to 4 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet wide.Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) Common Pests/Diseases
The only known beautyberry pests are the animals that enjoy the plant's berries. You may see minor leaf spots (Atractilina callicarpae) or black mold (Meliola cookeana), which can be treated with a fungicide.

Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) Companion Plants

This Beautyberry plant is best used in mass plantings with companions that include Hydrangea quercifolia, Symphyotrichum oblongifolium 'Raydon's Favorite', Rhododendron maximum, Aronia arbutifolia, Pinus virginiana, and Cornus florida.

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