Q: While visiting my daughter in Texas I noticed beautyberry plants growing wild in the area. My daughter has two beautiful ones in her back yard and she thought they were trash plants. Could you give me some information so that I can convince her to leave them in the landscape?
A: I have enjoyed the masses of “screaming purple” berries on my beautyberry branches for weeks. Migrating birds have enjoyed them as well. The shrub is nondescript during most of the year, so I can understand your daughter’s reluctance to keep it. There are several beautyberrys from which to choose. Callicarpa dichotoma var. albifructus has white berries. Callicarpa bodinieri has willow like leaves and violet fruit. The Japanese beautyberry, Callicarpa japonica, is somewhat smaller, growing 3 to 5 feet tall. Callicarpa americana is best suited for informal gardens or natural landscapes. It has rather coarse leaves and is not as refined as purple beautyberry but the fruits are very showy.
All of these beautyberrys do well in a woodland situation or a shrub border. The flowers and berries grow on the current year’s branches, so yearly pruning will produce more berries. Prune in early March to a height equal to half the height to which you want the shrub to be by fall. Beautyberry does not suffer from any serious insect or disease problems.