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Mr. Smarty Plants - Protection of American beautyberry in Pennsylvania

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Monday - July 30, 2007

From: Pittsburgh, PA
Region: Northeast
Topic: Diseases and Disorders, Shrubs
Title: Protection of American beautyberry in Pennsylvania
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have had a beauty berry 2 years now. I trim it back in early spring and it returns beautifully. ...but no flowers this year and it's almost August. Last year, very few berries. Can you help? It is in a fairly sunny spot. I am in Pittsburgh.

ANSWER:

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) is a native much loved by birds and gardeners for its lush berries and ability to do well in shade or partial shade. American beautyberry occurs naturally from Maryland south and southwest to Texas. In Pennsylvania you are in Zone 5 and probably need to protect your beautyberries with a thicker mulch in the winter, depending on your location and elevation. The American beautyberry grows naturally on the forest floor, and one source said it helps to replicate the conditions of filtered sun, rich organic soil and lots of water. The beautyberry will sometimes fail to fruit or drop leaves during drought periods. Pruning in late winter seems to be okay, and should encourage lusher growth and more flowers and berries.

So, having tried to establish what care is good for your plants, we still are not sure what is causing the sparseness of flowers and berries. While American beautyberry is a shade-loving plant, it flowers better if it receives at least some sun each day. In heavy shade it is not likely to set fruit well. Since yours in in a sunny spot, that is not likely the problem. You say you have had the beautyberry two years. Is it possible that it has not matured enough yet to produce the kind of flowers and berries you are expecting? We at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center applaud your practice of growing native plants and suggest that with a few alterations in the way you care for them and perhaps a little patience, your young plant will grow up to be large and lovely.


Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana

Callicarpa americana

 

 

 

 

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