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Callicarpa - Growing Guide

Growing Callicarpa

Beauty berry

The Callicarpa species grown in the Burncoose gardens are all deciduous shrubs notable for their cymes or panicles of tiny white, red, pink or purple flowers which appear in summer from the leaf axils. These flowers are followed by an even more spectacular display of similarly coloured violet purple or lilac purple bead like fruits and soft rose-red coloured autumn tints to their leaves. These shrubs grow to at least 5ft in height with a similar spread and, with us, C. bodinieri var. giraldii grows rather taller.

Callicarpa grow well in sun or dappled shade in a woodland context beside a path where their long lasting fruits can be admired. They make an equally good backdrop to a shrub border as well. C. japonica ‘Leucocarpa’ prefers summer heat and may get dieback after a hard winter. As such it may be a good idea to prune it back hard in its entirety to about 2ft after the fruits have disappeared.

C. bodinieri var. giraldii ‘Profusion’ is rightly the most impressive and popular of the Callicarpas. It has bronze young leaves and is the most free fruiting form with standout dense clusters of violet fruits.

C. dichotoma is a more compact shrub with rounded leaves and pink flowers in July followed by deep lilac fruits.

C. japonica ‘Leucocarpa’ has white flowers and white fruits.

We have been experimenting with other new and untried species of Callicarpa in the nursery including C. yunnanensis, C. mollis and C. kwangtungensis and have been impressed with their fruiting performance. C. kwangtungensis has already demonstrated excellent purple autumn leaf colours and purple-lilac fruits in just as great a ‘Profusion’ as the variety with that same name.

You need to grow Callicarpa near together so that cross pollination can take place and the best crop of fruits produced. At Caerhays we now have a Callicarpa plantation with eight separate species some of whose hardiness has yet to be tested.

Callicarpa root fairly easily from semi-ripe summer cuttings. The seeds can be sown in the autumn or spring in containers in the cold frame. We have seen quick and easy germination of ripe fruits.


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