Barberry 'Royal Burgundy' in bloom
A wonderful shrub for color in the landscape is Berberis thunbergil 'Royal Burgundy' (Royal Burgundy Barberry). Out of all the barberries it is definitely one of the the most vibrant and maintenance free for your garden. Exhibiting deep burgundy velvety foliage, 'Royal Burgundy' holds its color all throughout the spring, summer and into fall until it turns blackish-red and defoliates for the winter. Barberry 'Royal Burgundy' is deciduous, hardy in zones 4-8 and stays compact at a height of two to three feet at maturity. It prefers to be grown in full sun in a well-drained soil and requires little to no pruning. It is drought tolerant once established and is also deer resistant.
Barberry produces tiny yellow flower clusters in spring and red fruit in fall. This photo above shows a rare treat that I encountered while walking through my gardens. Usually the spring barberry flowers remain very insignificant but this one proved otherwise to my surprise!
Barberry can be planted with companion plants such as juniper, gold mop cypress, spirea, knock out rose, fountain grass, daylily, coreopsis, salvia or sedum for a vibrant display of color. I would definitely recommend this colorful and versatile plant for your landscape.
*Update (2015): Barberry has been labeled as invasive in some states. Alternatives for dwarf barberry are Dwarf Weigelia 'Spilled Wine', 'Wine and Roses', 'Midnight Wine', 'Dark Horse' or Fine Wine. Alternatives for regular sized Barberry are Eastern Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) 'Summer Wine' or 'Diablo' or Smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria).
As Always...Happy Gardening!
Author: Lee@ A Guide To Northeastern Gardening Copyright 2012