Wintergreen barberry’s bright red leaves in the fall will deepen in tone to burgundy as winter approaches. (Richie Steffen)

Wintergreen barberry’s bright red leaves in the fall will deepen in tone to burgundy as winter approaches. (Richie Steffen)

Great Plant Pick: Berberis julianae aka wintergreen barberry

The round shrub’s bright red leaves in the fall will deepen in tone to burgundy as winter approaches.

What: Berberis julianae, commonly known as wintergreen barberry, is one of the best formidable hedge plants you can find. The leathery, dark green foliage hides the sharp, thorny stems that knit together to form an impenetrable barrier. This evergreen shrub is tough, drought tolerant and withstands poor soils. In the fall, the older interior leaves turn bright red, giving it a pleasing autumn color. In winter, the remaining foliage deepens to tones of burgundy. In spring, small lemon-yellow flowers dangle in clusters.

Where: This large evergreen barberry will maintain its most compact form and flower best in full sun to light shade. It will tolerate open or dappled shade, but will have fewer flowers and a more open habit. It prefers a well-drained soil and will tolerate sandy and clay sites.

Size: The rounded shrub grows to be 10 feet tall and 7 feet wide when mature.

Care: Once established, wintergreen barberry is drought tolerant. It will respond well to pruning and shearing, and can create a very dense hedge over time. Pruning can be done in the winter, whereas shearing can be done in early summer and fall.

— Richie Steffen, Great Plant Pick

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