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Wednesday - October 08, 2014

From: Austin, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Beauty Berry Without Berries.
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

I have a beautyberry that has no berries. I have some 3 year old bushes that are not producing berries. They are in semi-shade and I fertilize them. The bushes are green and growing but no berries. I bought them at Walmart, could it be the wrong type of plant for Texas?

ANSWER:

The American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is a wonderful native shrub that is throughout the southeast and into Texas. It grows naturally in rich wooded bottomlands and on the edges of swamps. American beautyberry is a wonderful, large understory shrub with a naturally loose and graceful arching form. In the fall and early winter, the branches are laden with magenta purple (sometimes white) berry clusters that look spectacular as the leaves drop in autumn. It is useful as a screen in swampy or wooded locations or under shade trees in a garden setting. It can be cut to 12 above the base each winter to encourage more compact growth, flowers and fruit. It can also be left to mature naturally into a tall woody shrub. The shrub may temporarily defoliate and lose developing fruit during periods of prolonged summer drought.

The fruit is distinctly colored rose pink or lavender pink, berrylike, about 1/4 inch long and 3/16 inch wide, in showy clusters, persisting after the leaves have fallen.  The seeds and berries are important foods for many species of birds, particularly the Northern Bobwhite. Foliage is a favorite of White-tailed Deer.

There are a couple of non-native beautyberries (Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii ‘Profusion’ or Callicarpa dichotoma or a cultivar thereof) that might be the ones that you purchased at the nursery, but all of these shrubs like similar conditions (full sun to part shade, medium moist, well drained soils, with some tolerance for drought).

So it is unlikely that the type of Callicarpa is to blame for your missing fruit. There are some other reasons that might be the answer. Callicarpa bloom on new wood (new growth from the current year) and if they are pruned hard in early summer and then a drought caused them to go dormant, they may not bloom. By the way, if this shrub is killed to the ground by a harsh winter it should send up new growth in the spring and bloom. Another possibility is that they need cross-pollination for good fruit production and perhaps your shrubs are not planted close enough together for good insect movement between them. Lastly, Callicarpa should be fine without a lot of extra fertilizer, especially nitrogen fertilizer. Fertilizer that is high in nitrogen (the first of the three numbers) will promote lots of lush foliage growth at the expense of flowers and fruit.

 

From the Image Gallery


American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

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