Callicarpa are also known as beautyberries, with striking purple berries which are displayed on bare stems. With interest through the year, they are an asset to the garden. Read my tips on how to grow callicarpa in your garden.

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Callicarpas are medium-sized shrubs that look fantastic in a mixed border, or planted as a specimen near a path or window. The dark green foliage is spectacular in autumn as it turns gold and red before falling.

In autumn the bare stems are joined by purple-blue berries that have a wonderful shine to them. Not only do these look great in the garden, but they are also a lovely addition to cut flower arrangements.

Growing callicarpas

Plant beautyberries between September and November in a spot with well-drained soil that is acidic to neutral where they have access to plenty of sun or partial shade. Planting in very alkaline soil will cause the foliage to yellow.

Keep them growing their best by mulching annually with well-rotted compost. Then, in spring lightly prune to keep the plant in the best shape.

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The beauty of berries

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The jewel-like berries are a magical addition to the garden, and they are in fact edible. The fruits and leaves aren’t poisonous, but you probably won’t want to eat them fresh or raw because they have a bitter taste or even be flavourless. For this reason, they are more likely to be used to make jelly, tea, and wine.

The berries are non-toxic to animals, but many birds will only eat these berries and seeds when there isn’t much else on offer.

The essential oils from the plant have been used as a folk remedy to repel insects such a ants and mosquitos. A crushed leaf, rubbed on the skin has been said to deter these insects due to a chemical compounds.

Types to try

Callicarpa bodinieri var. giraldii (beautyberry) ‘Profusion’

The clusters of bright purple berries shine like jewels through autumn. Growing up to 3m tall, this is a wonderful addition to a mixed border, where the foliage and berries put on a show through the year.

  • Flowers in summer, berries in autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 3m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil (neutral/acidic)
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered or exposed
Lavender-sprigs-in-lemon-drink

Callicarpa bodinieri (white beautyberry) ‘Snowstar’

Contrasting to the usual purple berries, the white berries are a perfect addition to a contemporary, minimalistic or monochrome design garden. Whether you want all-white borders, or just want a winter-feeling shrub, look no further.

  • Flowers in summer, berries in autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 2.5m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil (neutral/acidic)
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered or exposed
Lavender-sprigs-in-lemon-drink

Callicarpa dichotoma (beautyberry) ‘Issai’

With slightly more compact growth, this variety grows up to 1.2m tall. The beauty of this variety is that the berries appear on younger plants, retaining them well. The small white flowers that bloom in summer may not be the star of the show, but they still look lovely and will be appreciated by pollinators in the area too.

  • Flowers in summer, berries in autumn
  • Fully hardy
  • Grows up to 1.5m tall
  • Moist but well-drained soil (neutral/acidic)
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Sheltered or exposed
Lavender-sprigs-in-lemon-drink

Growing callicarpa is a great way of bringing autumnal interest to the garden with their beautiful berries and also providing pretty spring flowers that benefit pollinators too. So, try your hand at growing these in your borders.

Find out more about growing veg at home:

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