About Berberis thunbergii ‘Atropurpurea’ (Red Leaf Japanese Barberry)
Berberis thunbergii ‘Atropurpurea’ is a deciduous shrub prized for its purple/purplish foliage. The leaves are an obovate to spatulate-oblong leaf margin and change from its striking purple color to deep amber in the fall. Midway through spring small pale-yellow flowers emerge followed by oblong red berries in the summer. Berberis thunbergii ‘Atropurpurea’ is commonly called Red Leaf Japanese Barberry and is considered a moderate grower. Growing an average landscape size of 4′ tall by 4′ wide, Berberis thunbergii has a rounded growth habit with arching stems/branches. Not only is it considered drought tolerant, its branches are peppered with thorns making it an excellent deterrent to deer.
Care and Planting Instructions
Plant Red Leaf Japanese Barberry in well-draining soil in an area that receives full sun. Water regularly to establish a healthy root system then reduce frequency unless during periods of extreme heat. This bush does not tolerate soggy soil so make sure to not overwater. As a moderate grower pruning is not necessary unless desired to control its shape or size. If desired, pruning is best done yearly in late winter and fertilizer can be used to promote growth before flowering in early spring.
Landscape Design Ideas
Plant Red Leaf Japanese Barberry lined up in a row to act as a divider between two spaces or against a fence as a backdrop. This shrub is often used in shopping center/professional building medians to discourage people from walking on the landscape or even planted on a hill to prevent soil erosion. If working with a small landscape area plant a single bush surrounded by smaller perennials or if working in a larger area plant in multiples of three or more. This bush is a great contrast against a typical green landscape backdrop but use sparingly as a little purple goes a long way.
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