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Wintergreen Barberry

Wintergreen barberry is a native of central China. Growing from 6 to 8 feet tall, it also spreads up to 6 feet. The growth is upright, twiggy and dense, although the base does open up as the plant ages.

Wintergreen barberry is an evergreen shrub that grows small leathery leaves that range from 2 to 4 inches long. They are arranged alternately on the branch, giving a whorl-like appearance.

While the foliage stays on all year, in the autumn it turns a wine or bronze color that lasts throughout the winter. In the spring, the bush has abundant small yellow flowers that nevertheless are showy. In the fall, berries appear. They are bluish-black berries. They are rather inconspicuous. The bark is yellowish-brown in color. The branches have sharp thorns arranged in groups of three at each node.

Planting Ideas

Wintergreen barberry makes a wonderful hedge or border plant. It is also good in a mass planting or as a barrier, due to the thorniness. There are three other varieties available: a compact version that grows to 5 feet known as 'Compactum'; one that grows to 4 feet in a mound shape known as 'Nana' and 'Spring Glory' which has a bit of red tint on its new growth.

Care Of the Wintergreen

This barberry is easily transplanted into soil that is well-drained, moist and slightly acidic. It prefers full sun, although it will tolerate light shade. While it will do okay with pruning, it looks its best when allowed to grow naturally.

Occasionally on older plants, you may want to do rejuvenation pruning. Be wary of thorns. When you work with this plant, wear gloves and other clothing that will protect you.

While it is very hardy, it can lose quite a few leaves in winter due to winter dessication.

It is probably best not to choose this plant for areas with small children as the thorns are wicked. Litter and debris tend to collect around the base of this plant.

This barberry is easily Propagated through cuttings during the fall and summer. Do not allow cuttings to remain wet or the new roots will drown. This plant is also easily grown by seed.

Barberry Information

  • Scientific Name: Berberis julianae

  • Best Soil: Moist, slightly acidic, well-drained soil

  • Light: Full sun or light shade

  • Growth Rate: Moderate

  • Foilage: Evergreen leathery leaves

  • Fall Color: Leaves turn bronze/wine colored in the fall and winter

  • Bloom: Small showy yellow flowers in April and May

  • Mature Size and Shape: Can grow up to 6 – 8 feet tall and 4 – 6 feet wide

  • Hardiness Zone: 6

  • Plant Spacing: for hedges, plant 3 feet apart

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