En EspaŅol

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?


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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
1 rating

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


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.


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





More Shrubs Questions

Shrubs for New Hampshire
June 25, 2009 - Will be landscaping next Spring: Do you think using 'Ilex Crenata'-Japanese Holly together with variegated Euonymus (species: fortunei) as shrub hedges in front of our house is a good combo? Do they...
view the full question and answer

Problems with Carolina Laurel Cherry from Pflugerville, TX
September 02, 2011 - In 2007 we planted 7 Carolina Laurelcherry (Prunus caroliniana)across our back fence. Everything was fine until this year. Three of the trees seemed to get sick and a local arborist said the roots ne...
view the full question and answer

Why doesn't Diervilla lonicera bloom in Wisconsin?
June 11, 2015 - I have had a Diervilla lonicera in southeastern Wisconsin for at least 5 years. It has never bloomed. Why? It appears healthy.
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrub for northwest-facing wall
June 09, 2012 - Can you suggest a tall (8-10') evergreen shrub for a site against a northwest-facing wall which gets no sun in the winter but full sun in the summer? Texas sage got too leggy and viburnum will be to...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for full sun in Austin
April 03, 2009 - I am looking for a tough, native TX plant to put in full sun location between the sidewalk and street. I would love for it to flower all summer. There is some irrigation but not much. I don't want ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center