• AGM plants

    AGM plants have been through a rigorous trial and assessment programme. They are:

    • Excellent for ordinary use in appropriate conditions
    • Available to buy
    • Of good constitution
    • Essentially stable in form & colour
    • Reasonably resistant to pests & diseases

Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea 'Red Chief'

Japanese barberry 'Red Chief'

Japanese barberry 'Red Chief'


  • Other common names Japanese barberry 'Red Chief'

  • Family Berberidaceae

  • 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

  • Details 'Red Chief' is a vigorous, spiny medium-sized deciduous shrub, habit upright to spreading, with rather narrow, purple-red leaves, becoming brighter red in autumn. Flowers pale yellow, followed by deep red berries


  • Foliage Deciduous

  • Habit Bushy

  • Toxicity Ingestion may cause mild stomach upset

  • Hardiness

    Hardiness ratings

    All ratings refer to the UK growing conditions unless otherwise stated. Minimum temperature ranges (in degrees C) are shown in brackets

    • H1a - Under glass all year (>15C)
    • H1b - Can be grown outside in the summer (10 - 15)
    • H1c - Can be grown outside in the summer (5 - 10)
    • H2 - Tolerant of low temperatures, but not surviving being frozen (1 to 5)
    • H3 - Hardy in coastal and relatively mild parts of the UK (-5 to 1)
    • H4 - Hardy through most of the UK (-10 to -5)
    • H5 - Hardy in most places throughout the UK even in severe winters (-15 to -10)
    • H6 - Hardy in all of UK and northern Europe (-20 to -15)
    • H7 - Hardy in the severest European continental climates (< -20)




  • Full Sun

  • Partial Shade

  • Aspect South-facing or West-facing or East-facing

  • Exposure Exposed or Sheltered


  • Chalk


  • Chalk


  • Chalk


  • Chalk


  • MoistureWell-drained, Moist but well-drained

  • SoilSand, Chalk, Clay, Loam

  • pHAcid, Alkaline, Neutral


  • Ultimate height 1-1.5 metres

  • Ultimate spread 1-1.5 metres

  • Time to ultimate height 5-10 years

How to grow

Cultivation Grows in any well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade

Propagation Propagate by semi-hardwood cuttings

Suggested planting locations and garden types Flower borders and beds Hedging & Screens Low Maintenance City & Courtyard Gardens Coastal Cottage & Informal Garden

How to care

Pruning Pruning group 8

Pests Generally pest free

Diseases May be subject to powdery mildews

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