How to Plant and Grow Beautyberry

Add charm to your garden with this shrub.

American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) produces white or light pink flowers in the summer that make quite a statement in the garden, but this shrub gets its name from a gorgeous display of bright purple berries in the fall. The berries hold well into the winter, making a delicious treat for birds. Because native American beautyberry blooms on new growth, you don't need to worry about accidentally pruning off flower buds in the fall. In addition to the native American beautyberry, Japanese beautyberry (C. japonica spp.) and Chinese beautyberry (C. dichotoma spp.) shrubs are available.

Lovely green leaves, which last throughout the growing season, act as a verdant backdrop for both flowers and berries. Beautyberry's small flowers are held in tight clusters near the stems, a display that adds subtle charm to the garden in early summer. They also set the stage for fall's grand finale. As summer winds down, the small green berries that follow the blooms turn a majestic purple that looks especially appealing when dusted with frost. Long-lasting beautyberry branches make colorful additions to cut flower arrangements.

Beautyberry Overview

Genus Name Callicarpa
Common Name Beautyberry
Plant Type Shrub
Light Part Sun, Sun
Height 3 to 10 feet
Width 4 to 8 feet
Flower Color Pink, White
Foliage Color Blue/Green
Season Features Summer Bloom, Winter Interest
Special Features Attracts Birds, Low Maintenance
Zones 10, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Propagation Seed, Stem Cuttings

Where to Plant Beautyberry

In the wild, this shrub grows along the edges of woodland areas where they are in light to moderate shade. However, they can be planted in full sun for the best blooms and berry production, as long as they have sufficient water. Beautyberry does well in mass plantings and is a spectacular fall specimen plant.

How and When to Plant Beautyberry

Nursery-grown beautyberry shrubs can be planted in either spring or fall. This shrub does fine in average, well-draining soil, but very poor soil should be amended with compost or organic matter before the shrub is planted. Dig a hole only as deep as the rootball and set the plant in the ground, backfilling as needed. Only one shrub is needed for berry production, but the yield increases with more than one. When planting multiple shrubs, space them 5-7 feet apart, depending on the variety.

Beautyberry Care Tips

Beautyberry is a low-maintenace, easy-to-grow shrub.


Even though this plant typically grows in woodland areas, it produces the best fruit set in full sun. Beautyberry grows in part shade, but it displays a looser habit and bears less fruit.

Soil and Water

In a garden setting, beautyberry prefers moist, well-drained soils with some organic matter. Beautyberry shrubs also tolerate clay soils as long as they don't remain wet for long periods. Give the shrub about 1 inch of water weekly during dry periods; it can tolerate some drought.

Temperature and Humidity

Beautyberry doesn't have a particular temperature or humidity requirements as long as it's grown within in its hardiness zones. When its moisture needs are met, it has a good heat tolerance.


When planted in the proper soil, beautyberry does not require fertilization. Fertilizer promotes more foliage and less fruit.


Prune this shrub in late winter. It blooms on new wood in spring, so you don't want to prune it then. Either cut the entire shrub down to about 12 inches from the ground or selectively remove a third of the oldest or most damaged branches.

Potting and Repotting Beautyberry

Although beautyberry is a bit large for a houseplant, it can be grown successfully in large, heavy containers near outdoor sitting areas. Fill the container with garden soil mixed with compost and toss in some organic matter. The planting medium should remain moist at all times. Make a hole the same size as the root ball and set the shrub in the hole, backfilling any remaining space with the soil. Press down with your hands on the soil to remove any air pockets. The shrub can be pruned in winter to maintain its size, so it never has to be repotted.

Pests and Problems

Beautyberry isn't affected by pests or diseases. However, winter hardiness is a problem with the shrub, so gardeners in chilly areas should plant it in a sheltered location and mulch it well in the fall.

How to Propagate Beautyberry

Beautyberry shrub reseeds itself, so a walk in the garden in the spring should reveal several tiny new shrubs just waiting to be moved to their permanent location. If you don't have a beautyberry shrub but have an aggreeable friend with one, you can propagate via seeds or stem cuttings.

Seed: Pick several mature berries in late fall. Each berry contains 2-4 seeds. Soak the berries in water for 24 hours. Then, put them in a jar almost filled with water, seal it, and shake vigorously to separate the seeds from the pulp. The mature seeds will sink to the bottom, while immature seeds and pulp will float. Strain off the floating material and discard it. Then strain out the mature seeds at the bottom and spread them on a paper towel to dry.

When you are ready to plant, soak the mature seeds in water. Fill small pots with seed-starter mix and sow 1 or 2 seeds per pot, covering them with only 1/16 inch of planting mix. Water the pots and put them in a warm sunny space. Mist the planting mix regularly until the seedlings are ready to transplant. Germination takes three months.

Cuttings: In spring, take 4- to 6-inch softwood cuttings from new growth. Each cutting should have two or three sets of leaves. Fill small pots with moist potting soil or a sterile planting mix and poke a hole in the center of the soil. Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the cuttings, dip them in rooting hormone, and insert one in each of the holes, firming the soil around them. Put a clear plastic bag over each pot and cutting and put it in bright but indirect light. Remove the bag and mist the soil regularly. When you see new growth on the cutting, rooting has started. Remove the bag permanently. The cuttings take six to 10 weeks to grow big enough to transplant.

Types of Beautyberry

American Beautyberry

American beautyberry Callicarpa americana
Denny Schrock

Callicarpa americana is a handsome, North American native plant. It bears pretty lilac flowers in the spring, followed by clusters of purple fruit in autumn. It grows 3-5 feet tall and wide. Zones 6-10.

'Issai' Beautyberry

Purple Beautyberry Callicarpa dichotoma 'Issai'
Doug Hetherington

Callicarpa dichotoma 'Issai' has large quantities of purple fruit that begin to develop their color earlier than many other varieties of beautyberry. Zones 5-8

Mexican Beautyberry

Mexican beautyberry Callicarpa acuminata
Denny Schrock

Callicarpa acuminata bears clumps of wine-red berries in the late summer and fall. It grows 6- 8 feet tall and wide. Zones 8-10.

'Profusion' Beautyberry

Profusion Beautyberry Callicarpa bodinieri
Susan A. Roth

This Callicarpa bodinieri 'Profusion' selection offers dark green leaves, pale pink summertime flowers, and rich purple fruits in autumn. It grows 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide. Zones 6-8.

Purple Beautyberry

Purple beautyberry Callicarpa dichotoma
Bill Stites

Callicarpa dichotoma offers bright green leaves, pink summertime flowers, and bold purple fruits in September and October. It grows 4 feet tall and wide. Zones 6-8.

'Welch's Pink' Beautyberry

Callicarpa americana 'Welch's Pink'
Denny Schrock

Callicarpa americana 'Welch's Pink' gets its name from its pink midsummer flowers and bright pink autumn berries. It grows 3-6 feet tall. Zones 7-9.


Because of beautyberry's increasing popularity, breeders are working to develop hybrids with expanded hardiness. Breeders are also trying to develop earlier-fruiting varieties and varieties that bear larger or different-colored fruit. Some new cultivars boast burgundy foliage, a bold step forward for a plain shrub (aside from its fall beauty).

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the difference between American and Japanese beautyberry shrubs?

    American beautyberry shrubs are slightly taller than the Japanese beautyberry, which has more of a weeping form and smaller berries. The Chinese beautyberry has a greater cold tolerance and is usually a smaller plant.

  • What is the lifespan for American beautyberry?

    American beautyberry shrubs will thrive in good conditions in a home garden for up to 30 years.

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