Many of us associate plants and flowers with people who are special to us. Daisies and apple blossoms are my Mom’s flowers. My daughter is gerbera daisies. Callicarpa, Beautyberry, is for a friend and co-worker who left us too early a few years back. Callicarpa comes from the Greek kalli-(beautiful) and karpos (fruit) and in the fall it’s easy to see why. The colour of the berries is almost unnatural, seen only in a large box of crayons. The shrub is quite unremarkable for the first six and a half months of the growing season but in October when its berries mature there are few fruiting plants that can compete.
NUTS AND BOLTS
There are two main species found in North America. Callicarpa bodinieri is a native of China. It has small, shiny bluish-lilac fruit on a shrub that reaches 2 to 2.5 metres tall. The cultivar “Profusion” has larger, more abundant fruit. Callicarpa dichotoma is the most refined species, growing to one metre high and wide, with long slender branches. The prolific fruit is bright lilac. Callicarpa does best in full sun and likes well-drained soils with regular moisture. In colder regions there will be some dieback in winter but there should be no hardiness issues in most areas of the Okanagan.
WHERE TO PLANT
The general rule is this-if you like a particular feature of a plant make sure you a) plant it where you can see and enjoy it and b) plant enough of them to have an impact. One Callicarpa looks fabulous, two look even more fabulous. No matter where it’s located your eye will naturally be drawn to this shrub. The berries persist over the winter as the birds don’t seem to like them. Grow Callicarpa and you’ll hardly be able to wait until October in the garden.