Monday, July 26, 2010


Sometimes it's nice to tell you all about a plant you might not be familiar with. This is Callicarpa. It is a small shrub, maybe 5 feet tall and as wide. The first few years, at least in this climate, it usually dies back to the ground, but this past winter, with out horrible weather, it leafed out to the tips of the branches this spring. It's not a fancy thing, but is pretty in spring, summer and fall. In the spring it has lovely light green foliage.
When summer comes, it has light purple flowers in tiny bunches all down each stem. It really gets covered in bloom and it a favorite of our tiny bumblebees and other pollinators.
The best show, though, is in the fall when the bright purple berries replace all of those flowers. The berries last until frost and don't seem to be eaten by much. Not good for bringing inside, because the berries seem to end up everywhere after a day or so.
This is a hard one to sell, for some reason. First, most people don't seem to know it, and second, most of our shrub buyers are here in the early spring before Callicarpa looks like anything except a plain green shrub.
Another plus is that it grows well in shade. I'm not sure it even likes sun since all of mine are growing in light shade. It doesn't seem to have any pests and is easy to prune if it gets a little too big. Because it blooms all down the stem, you will cut off some bloom if you trim the stems back (like I have to do along a walk, several times each year) but since the bloom isn't just at the tips of the branches, you still will have blooms and berries all along the stems that remain.
I can't say enough nice about this one and hope you might consider trying it. There is also a variegated form with is sort of related to this one. That is a bit more tender and needs a very sheltered spot here in zone 6.
Hope you all are having the nice weather we're having today. It's the first day I've been able to work outside from breakfast until supper time for quite a few weeks. So nice to feel like I was getting something done.

1 comment:

scdd said...

I agree completely about the value of this shrub. I have one in my border and can only say there's a reason why they call it 'Beautyberry'.