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Bright and beautiful

Some of the most useful and versatile shrubs, berberis are hardy, reliable and easy to grow. The dense habit and abundant flowers of evergreen species make them invaluable as wildlife-friendly hedging and screening, while the brightly coloured foliage of deciduous species lends them to eye-catching mixed borders.

Berberis, commonly known as Barberry, are a large and variable genus of about 400 species of hardy deciduous and evergreen shrubs. While some are invasive weeds, many have been bred and cultivated for their beautiful foliage, flowers and even fruit, making them worthy additions to gardens. Their flowers are used for producing yellow dyes while their roots have been known for antibacterial properties. Different berberis varieties grow to varying sizes from 50cm to 2m and have a range of foliage colours, including purple, red, green and golden yellow. Berberis are great hedging plants and their mass of thorny stems can also work as a crime stopper!

How to grow berberis in your garden

Choose north facing edges of the garden or edges which receive at least a few hours of sunlight throughout the day. Enrich a well-drained soil with Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food. If the soil is clay based, add gypsum and fork in well.

Dig the planting hole twice as wide and to the same depth as the root-ball. Remove the tree from the container, gently tease the roots.

Position in hole and backfill with soil, gently firming down. Form a raised or doughnut shaped ring of soil around the outer edge of the plant's root zone. This helps keep water where it's needed. Always water in well after planting to settle the soil around the roots and keep the soil moist for several weeks while the new plant establishes.

Mulch around the base with organic mulch like bark chips, woodchips or pea straw, keeping it away from the trunk.

Water deeply, two to three times a week, depending on weather conditions.

Feed every 6-8 weeks from spring to mid autumn with Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food.

For a hedge plant them at a distance of 3 metres apart.

Growing tips

For best results and intense flower colours, position them in full sun.

Water every few days when young — they are drought tolerant once established.

Prune after flowering. It is best to lightly prune, removing about 10cm.

Avoid waterlogged soils as this can lead to root rot. Root rot is best alleviated by improving drainage.

Some varieties include:

' Berberis valdiviana

' Berberis aquifolium

' Berberis vulgaris

Cultivars include:

' Berberis thunbergii ‘Autopurpurea'

' Berberis thunbergii ‘Dwarf Gold'

' Berberis thunbergii ‘Golden Ring'

' Berberis thunbergii ‘Rose Glow'

' Berberis thunbergii ‘Helmond Pillar'

' Berberis thunbergii ‘Autopurpurea'

— Courtesy of Yates