How to Grow and Care for Callicarpa (Beautyberry)

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Beautyberry is a genus of small trees and shrubs that is native to Asia, Australia, Madagascar, and the Americas. 

Callicarpa americana is a perennial plant commonly known as the American beautyberry, gets its name from its fantastic display of fuchsia-colored, autumn berries. 

This perennial deciduous shrub has an elegant shape, with graceful arching branches, and can be found growing in the wild in woodlands.


Although this plant is sometimes referred to as the French mulberry, this common name has no bearing on the beautyberry’s origins – it isn’t a plant in the mulberry family, and it isn’t French!

Plant Facts

Scientific nameCallicarpa americana
Common namesBeautyberry
Height6 feet (1.83 meters)
Width5 feet (1.52 meters)
USDA Plant Hardiness ZoneZones 7 to 11
Native toSouth Eastern United States
Blooming seasonSpring and Summer
Flower colorsLavender, violet or pink
Plant specific featuresClusters of brilliant fuchsia-colored berries in late summer and fall

How to Plant and Grow a Callicarpa Bush

Where to Plant

This is a shrub that will do best if planted in fertile soil with plenty of space in which to grow and is able to spread its low, arching branches.

When it is covered in berries, the weight will cause the branches to bend low. If it is planted too close to neighboring plants, it is likely to shade or crowd them.

The beautyberry will produce the best fruit if it is planted in a dappled shade. You can plant it under a deciduous tree, or at the edge of a woodland garden.

When to Plant

Beautyberry should be planted in the spring or fall. 

Callicarpa Shrubs Care and Maintenance


This is a plant that is normally happy to be planted in native soil. Only if your soil is very poor, will it be necessary to apply a soil conditioner to improve the quality.

Compost is the ideal medium to add if required. This is a plant that is not fussy about the pH level of the soil.

Make sure that the beautyberry is not planted too deep in the soil. The shrub should only be planted as deep as the root ball and the top of the container should be slightly above the surface of the soil.


The hotter, sunnier and drier location that you have chosen in which to plant your shrubs, the more water they will need. However, if you have planted in partial shade, then the beautyberry should only need a thorough watering during a prolonged hot, dry spell. 

This is a low-maintenance plant and will do well in fairly dry conditions.


As already stated, Callicarpa americana is a plant that doesn’t need any special treatment in order to perform well. It doesn’t need fertilizer. If its growing medium is too rich in nitrogen, it will produce more foliage and fewer berries.


Callicarpa bushes prefer full sun. They will tolerate some shade, but won’t do well in full shade. Don’t plant this shrub under large trees, which will deprive the beautyberry of sunlight.

Pruning and Repotting

It isn’t necessary to undertake an annual pruning of the callicarpa. However, if you wish to prune this shrub, then because it flowers on new wood, it should be pruned in late winter.

You can even prune it back hard at the end of the winter before the new spring growth appears.


If you choose to propagate your beautyberry, then you can sow seeds. 

It may not be necessary to sow seeds, as quite often the beauty berry will self-seed. But if you decide to propagate by seed, then either sow the seeds in the summer and transplant them in the fall or sow in late fall to transplant the following spring.

Seeds should only just be covered with compost; they are slow to germinate.

After around two weeks, once the temperature reaches around 65 degrees, they should germinate and can be pricked out into pots. Leave them to grow on until the following growing season.

It can be easier and quicker to propagate your beautyberry shrubs from cuttings. The softwood cuttings (using the current season’s growth) should be taken early in the spring.

Alternatively, you can take semi-hardwood cuttings in mid-summer. These cuttings should be around 10 cm in length. 

Pests and diseases

Generally, this is a trouble-free plant to grow. Any problems that do occur (such as leaf spots and black mold, are minor and cause no severe damage to the C. americana.

Beautyberry leaves are attractive to deer, so if you grow this plant, you may need to check the quality of your fencing!

Temperature and Humidity

Beautyberry thrives in USDA zones 6 – 10. If you are in a cooler climate, then you can consider putting a layer of mulch around the base of the plant. This will keep the plant warmer and benefit the general health of the shrub.  

Other Uses for Beautyberry

In small amounts, the beautyberry fruits can be eaten raw. They have a spicy flavor and different varieties vary in their sweetness. 

They are not popular to eat raw in large quantities, like strawberries or raspberries but can be cooked and made into juice. This juice can then be incorporated into healthy recipes such as desserts and jellies.

The leaves of Beautyberry can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Until you are certain you are not adversely affected by an allergy, be careful when touching the plants or harvesting the berries. 

One of the main alternative uses for beautyberry is as an insect repellant. The leaves can be crushed and rubbed on your skin (if you are not allergic) to keep mosquitoes and other insects away.

Types of Callicarpa You Can Grow

C. americana (American beautyberry) is the best-known variety of callicarpa shrubs.

This is the beautyberry that is native to the American states, but there are also several Asian varieties that are native to China, Japan, and Korea.

These varieties are hardier than the American native, so can be a useful choice if you are in a colder region where the americana is not hardy.

Furthermore, the  Callicarpa japonica (Japanese beautyberry) is a smaller, more compact shrub that will not grow more than around 6 feet (1.83 meters) tall. This can be more useful if space is limited.

Callicarpa dichotoma (Asian beautyberry) is also a contained shrub and, like the Japanese beautyberry, the berries form in clusters a little away from the stems.

The American beautyberries appear in tight clusters close to the stem, and this is an easy way to identify whether the plant is a native American or Asian variety.

There is even a variegated form of the Asian beautyberry available, known as “Duet”. This provides even more seasonal interest and is especially showy when planted against a dark backdrop. It will grow moderately fast until it matures to about 5 feet (1.52 meters) tall. 


This is a landscape plant that produces bright colorful berries. The berries will stay on the plant throughout the winter months, giving a proliferation of color at a time when all additional color is to be welcomed.

Sometimes birds and small mammals will strip the berries, but only if there is little else on which to feast!  

Callicarpa shrubs, particularly the native American varieties, are very easy to grow and they are long-lived plants.

*image by nitimongkolchai/depositphotos

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