American Beautyberry: An Easy Grow Beauty and Biodiversity Knock-Out
Hit the “easy button!” American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) is very easy to grow, requiring no maintenance other than elective pruning. The light green deciduous native shrub grows 3-8 feet high and 4-8 feet wide in Florida’s USDA Hardiness Zones 8A-10B. Planted in sandy and loamy soils in sun, partial sun, or dappled shade, it requires moderate-to-low moisture once established.
Clusters of lavender blossoms appear late spring until summer, attracting bees and other pollinators. Starting late summer, arching branches are covered with groups of small, shiny purple fruits. Native beautyberries with white fruits are also available and provide a striking contrast in your landscape. Unless gobbled by birds and small mammals in early fall, fruits may remain on branches after leaves fall and are a winter food source for local and migratory birds. Many Florida residents harvest the purple berries and make a delicious jam. Dozens of recipes are available on the Internet.
Use beautyberry as a specimen plant or in groups of 3-5 for an open, informal screen. It blends well with hardwoods, pines, and landscaping shrubs. For a denser look, cut back bare branches by one-third or even down to one-foot before flowering.
Add biodiversity to your yard with American beautyberry. One plant provides nectar for pollinators from spring into summer, is a host plant for the Spring azure butterfly and Snowberry clearwing month (important insect protein for baby birds) and offers fall berries for birds.
See before your buy. Visit the Native Plant Demonstration Garden at UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County office, 16110 Aviation Loop Drive, Brooksville 34604. Check out native plants for shady, partially shady, and sunny areas. Helpful plant labels include informational QR codes.
Shop Hernando County Master Gardeners nursery, 19490 Oliver Street, Brooksville 34601 and purchase native and non-native Florida-friendly plants.
Written by UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County Master Gardener Volunteers Terry Thomas and Alice Smith.
Watch a video of Alice showing how attractive beautyberry is in our demonstration garden: