Barberry selections provide dramatic color

One of the most desirable shrubs for 2019 is Berberis, aka the barberry bush.

Almost weekly, folks are asking to have this uniquely shaped and dramatically colored shrub identified.

Barberry bushes are water-wise, sun-loving and deciduous. They have intensely colored leaves that command attention within a landscape from spring through fall. Barberry shrubs have been available for decades, but with all the new introductions, they are back in fashion.


Barberry selections provide dramatic color
Barberry Orange Rocket

This renewed excitement seemed to start when the selection Orange Rocket hit the scene. Orange Rocket has tiny deep orange leaves that emerge in spring. As summer warms, the color darkens to deep russet, while the tips stay orange and the interior of the shrub has kisses of merlot. This selection’s foliage is so interesting.


Orange Rocket grows taller than wide, making its shape very desirable. You can expect each shrub to grow 3-4 feet tall and about 1½ feet wide. Surround Orange Rocket with woolly grevillea, or underplant a multi-trunk fruitless olive. The orange foliage will be awesome combined with the icy-gray color of the other leaves.

Rose Glow barberry has a graceful shape, with arching branches of tiny leaves in molted colors of rose and red. The combination almost makes this selection appear variegated. Rose Glow will reach 5 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

Property line accent

This barberry makes a lovely property line installation or fence accent. Pair Rose Glow with evergreen Arbutus Marina and a few Abelia Kaleidoscope for contrast. Consider adding Cha Cha Pink Penstemon for flower power. Together, these plants will create a stimulating landscape, filled with leaf interest, texture and flowers.

Emerald Carousel is another new selection of barberry. This specimen has larger green leaves, showy yellow flowers in the spring and red winter berries. Emerald Carousel is a large selection of barberry that will reach 5 feet by 5 feet. Consider planting it on a slope, where the arching branches can be appreciated as you look up into the plant.

Barberry Limoncello’s spring leaf is nearly chartreuse. This fantastic pop of spring color is fresh and welcoming. Limoncello is an exception as barberry goes because it prefers only a half day of sun. Too much exposure to the sun and the leaves will become edged in salmon, and most of the chartreuse ages to gold.

Limoncello reaches 3-4 feet tall and wide. It would make a great companion plant to a bed filled with azalea and oakleaf hydrangea.

All barberry bushes are deciduous. They will lose their leaves in autumn, just like crape myrtles and Japanese maples. But they all have intense fall colors. You can expect brilliant reds and glowing oranges.

Barberry are deer-resistant. They have tiny thorns, so be careful when placing in the garden. Barberry bushes are best planted in fall or early spring, rather than summer.

Nicole is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio, Gifts and Garden. You can contact her with ­questions or comments by email at