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Berberis thunbergii
  • RHS Plants for pollinators

Japanese barberry

Dense, rounded deciduous shrub about 1m tall, with spiny fresh green leaves, bluish-green beneath, to 3cm long, turning red and orange in autumn. Racemes of small yellow flowers, flushed red on sepals, are produced along the branches in mid spring, glossy bright scarlet berries follow

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Size
Ultimate height
1–1.5 metres
Time to ultimate height
5–10 years
Ultimate spread
1–1.5 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Clay
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained, Well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Red Yellow Green
Summer Green
Autumn Orange Red Red
Winter
Position
  • Full sun
  • Partial shade
Aspect

South–facing or North–facing or West–facing or East–facing

Exposure
Exposed or Sheltered
Hardiness
H7
Botanical details
Family
Berberidaceae
Native to the UK
No
Foliage
Deciduous
Habit
Bushy
Potentially harmful
Fruit are ornamental - not to be eaten. Wear gloves and other protective equipment when handling
Genus

Berberis can be deciduous or evergreen shrubs with spiny shoots bearing simple, often spine-toothed leaves, and small yellow or orange flowers in axillary clusters or racemes, followed by small berries

Name status

Correct

Plant range
Japan

How to grow

Cultivation

Grows in any soil except waterlogged, in sun or part shade. A sunny position will encourage fruiting and autumn colour, see berberis cultivation for further advice

Propagation

Propagate by seed or propagate from softwood or semi-ripe cuttings in summer

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Coastal
  • Cottage and informal garden
  • Wildlife gardens
  • Low Maintenance
  • Hedging and screens
  • Flower borders and beds
Pruning

Pruning group 2; trim hedges after flowering

Pests

May be susceptible to aphids and berberis sawfly

Diseases

May be susceptible to powdery mildews and sometimes by honey fungus

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