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The beautyberry shrub

October 27, 2017
By H.I. JEAN SHIELDS - Garden Club of Cape Coral , Cape Coral Daily Breeze


The beautyberry shrub has everything a homeowner could want in his or her landscape. It is a native plant, heat and cold tolerant and not real particular about the soil you plant it in. It will thrive in rich, sandy, mild clay and, as long as it is in some light to medium shade and has moist feet, it will perform well with fragrant flowers in spring; and iridescent purple clusters of berries in fall that cascade down long arching branches; and, of course, green leaves that will fall off in winter to showcase the clusters of beautiful berries encircled around brown woody branches.

Easy care, because you only have to cut back all the long arching branches to about 12 inches from the bottom of the shrub. The trimming can be done in the fall or even in the spring. You will notice the shrub looking worn out and ready for a trim.

The shrub will be light and open, about 3 to 6 feet wide, depending on the spread of the branches. A perfect under-story shrub.

Beautyberry does not have much of a pest problem. It is loved by birds and butterflies, and a few small animals, and deer. We do not have to worry about deer.

However, understand that the lovely berries are not to be eaten by humans and pets. They are poisonous.

In the old days, Native Americans were happy with the beautyberry because of its medicinal usage.

The root and leaf tea was a remedy for dysentery and stomach aches. A root and berry tea was used for colic.

It seems to me the cure was as bad as the problem. However, back in those days humans were a tough breed.

Propagation is simple. Root cuttings, softwood cuttings and possible good luck with mature clump transplants. I have no experience here, so good luck.

I do have gardening friends who are able to root anything they get their hands on. That is an important skill in gardening.

Beautyberry is not used as much as it should be in our local landscapes and you do not find this shrub for sale just anywhere.

I know by the time you are reading this column, you will be wearing a sweater and enjoying our first cool weather.

In a few weeks, we will be enjoying a cool time change.

Then we will celebrate a cool Thanksgiving.

Lots of cool things coming up!

Happy gardening till we meet again.

H.I. Jean Shields is past president of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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