This is a variety that punctures the old idea that berberis are dull. Not any more.
Most of the barberries that we grow are forms of the deciduous Berberis thunbergii, and this is no exception. What sets ‘Orange Sunrise’ apart is not only its bold upright habit but also its dramatic foliage that changes colour from spring to autumn.
In spring, the new growth - both stems and leaves - is coral pink. Then, as it matures, each leaf becomes rounded and rich red in colour with a neat golden rim and the stems also develop deeper colouring. The oldest leaves may also develop a yellow flush and in shady conditions the colouring may tend towards green. Then, as autumn approaches, the whole plant deepens to crimson, still retaining that bright margin. It’s a little like the more familiar ‘Orange Rocket’, but with the neat gold edge to each and every leaf.
Ideal as a neat specimen with striking vertical growth, ‘Orange Sunrise’ reaches only about 1m in height, and makes an excellent low hedge. If left unpruned it will bush out a little over the years, for the most intensely upright growth prune back to 10-15cm.
Berberis thunbergii ‘Orange Sunrise’ was found in a bed of seedlings in 2007 in Konskowola in Poland by Lucjan Kurowscy of the Szkolka Kurowscy.
You can order plants of Berberis thunbergii ‘Orange Sunrise’ from RHS Plants and Thompson & Morgan.