Prickly shrubs of the Berberis family are ornamental and useful for deterring unwanted visitors. The leaves themselves can be very spiky like Berberis Darwinii with glossy dark green leaves and orange flowers. Alternatively this purple Berberis Thunderbergii has stems that are spiney with sharp needles to deter the most ardent burglars.
How to Grow Prickly Berberis
- Also called the Barberry the shrubs are hardy, easy to grow and often quite rampant.
- Prune them into shape in spring and keep cutting to encourage branching and a close network of branches. Berberis can be very useful as part of an informal hedge.
- The flowers may have a second flush in autumn and the purple or red berries are edible though difficult to pick due to the prickles
- The species Helmond Pillar for is less robust than most Berberis and as its name suggests grows in a uniform pillar or column shape. My specimen is very slow to grow
- Berberis georgei is one of my favourites with lots of sterile dark yellow flowers and bright red fruit. It has an AGM
- Propagate from pencil width cuttings in Autumn but be prepared to wait for a year to get roots although bottom heat will help.
Further Berberis Tips
- There are many forms and varieties of Berberis with yellow, pink and orange flowers, colourful leaves and berries so check out the offerings at you local garden centre. There is even a pink flowering variety Pink Pearl.
- A good book on trees and shrubs will give you more information such as the Hillier Gardeners Guide
- The only pest I am aware of is Berberis sawfly (Arge berberidis) a European species that was first confirmed in April 2002 where Berberis thunbergii plants had been defoliated the previous year.
- Read more about Berberis deciduous and evergreen and Other varieties
Other Plants to Scratch a Thief
- Sea Buckthorne Hippophea Raminoides
- Ulex Europaeus common gorse
- Mahonia Bealei Winter Sun
- Crataegus Monogyna Hawthorn
- Ilex Holly
- Rosa Rugarosa Rubra Crimson or Double de Coubert