Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
5 ratings

Friday - July 20, 2007

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Propagation, Transplants
Title: Care and propagation of American Beautyberry
Answered by: Joe Marcus

QUESTION:

We have an American Beautyberry growing on our lot. Before we fenced the backyard it was browsed by deer, and survived by wedging itself between the fence and a juniper tree. How can we: 1. encourage it to spread 2. propogate it 3. ensure its survival? We were told it is poisonous. Is that true? Thanks for the help.

ANSWER:

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) prefers partial shade and rich, moist, slightly acidic soil. However, it is fairly forgiving of marginal growing conditions and will do nicely in a mostly sunny location if given sufficient water.

It sounds like your shrub is very limited in space where it's growing now and you might consider digging and moving it to a more suitable location. If so, you should wait until late fall or early winter in your area (Central Texas) to do so. You can root-prune now, though, to prepare the plant for the big move. Slipping a spade as deep as you can go into the soil part way around the plant at the same distance from the plant that you plan to dig and create a rootball this fall will encourage the plant to form new roots within the rootball this summer. Because we are now in mid-summer, you will not want to dig more than about half way around the plant now or else the plant will suffer the same as if it were transplanted. You may need to prune back some of the top growth to reduce stress on the plant. When you transplant your beautyberry later in the year, cut the top back to about 12" in height. If you rootprune, be sure and provide supplemental water to it as needed during the heat of summer.

When selecting a new location for your shrub, be sure and pick a place where it has plenty of room to spread; American beautyberry likes to sprawl and can spread to 6-9' in diameter. It usually tops out at about 6' in height.

Callicarpa americana can be propagated by seed or by softwood cuttings. Seeds should be removed from berry pulp in the fall, dried, and stored in a cool dry place until late winter. They may then be sown in a potting soil/sand mix and lightly covered. Keep moist. Germination percentage is typically low for this species. Another possibility is to dig volunteer seedlings that commonly pop up around mature plants. Cutting propagation is tricky for most homeowners, but if you have the knack for it, the cuttings may be taken and stuck now. They root readily.

Your best bet for ensuring your beautyberry's survival is to leave it right where it is. Since deer can no longer reach it, the shrub will probably be very happy in its tight little niche. Once you've successfully propagated and located some new plants in more suitable locations, you can remove the old plant if you desire.

 

From the Image Gallery


American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

More Transplants Questions

Soaptree yucca falling over in Mesa AZ
July 24, 2013 - My soaptree yucca is about 5 ft tall and has fallen over. Does this plant require staking for I thought not, or is something else going on with it?
view the full question and answer

Browning leaves on recently planted chinkapin oak in Rockwall TX
June 09, 2010 - I just planted a chinkapin oak that is about 1 1\2 inches thick last week and now some of the leaves are turning brown. Does that mean its dying? Do you have any tips that I could use to protect it?
view the full question and answer

Care for large trumpet vine in Hugo MN
June 09, 2010 - I was recently given a large Trumpet vine that has been growing in the same place for the last 25 years.I have replanted it and given it a large trellis to grow on.I live in central Minnesota. My ques...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting mature guavaberry in St. Croix
January 22, 2010 - I live on the island of St. Croix in the United States Virgin Islands and I have a Guavaberry tree that is about 25 to 30 years old, between 15 to 20 feet tall and about 6 feet wide that I would like ...
view the full question and answer

Newly planted Burford Holly doing poorly in Austin, TX.
July 25, 2011 - About a month ago I bought dwarf burford holly. Now they have slowly started getting brown leaves that eventually fall off. Some of the plants have white spots on the ends. I usually check my plant...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.