Planting & Growing Guide For Berberis darwinii (Darwin’s barberry)

Planting & Growing Guide For Berberis darwinii (Darwin’s barberry)

Planting & Growing Guide For Berberis darwinii (Darwin’s barberry)

Image by BeansandSausages from Pixabay

Darwin’s barberry (Berberis darwinii) is a shrub that can reach heights of 1.5–3 m and widths of 1.5–3 m. This South American-native broadleaf evergreen shrub belongs to the barberry family. During his Beagle voyage, Charles Darwin took note of this plant. The leaves are glossy and dark green, measuring 12–25 mm in length and 5–12 mm in width. They have spiked edges and grow in groups of two to five. In the spring, the tiny, pale orange-yellow flowers grow to a length of 2-4 mm. Small purple-black berries that ripen in the summer and can be eaten follow these, but they are extremely acidic.

Botanical Name Berberis darwinii
Common name Darwin’s barberry
Family Barberry
Plant Type Shrub
Mature Size 4 to 10 ft.
Foliage Evergreen
Sun Exposure Full Sun, Partial shade
Soil Type Preferred Most Soil Types (Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand)
Water Needs Low
Maintenance Low
Bloom Time Spring
Flower Color Red, Orange, Gold
Hardiness Zones 7-9, USDA
Soil Drainage Moist but well drained
Native Area Chile, Argentina
Tolerance Deer, Drought & Heat
Attracts Bees, Butterflies & Birds

Planting & Growing Berberis darwinii

How to Grow Berberis darwinii From Seed

Your seeds should be planted as soon as the berries are ripe so they can sprout by late winter or early spring. You will have less time to plant when the seeds are taken from overripe fruit because they will take longer to germinate. If you buy stored seeds, they might need to be cold stratified and planted as early in the year as possible. The best way to prevent damping off in seedlings is to provide them with adequate ventilation and avoid overwatering them. They should be planted into separate pots when they are big enough to be pricked off, allowed to grow in cold frames, and then planted outside the the next spring or early summer.

Berberis darwinii Care

Plant this simple-to-grow shrub in average, well-drained soils, in full sun to partial shade. It can withstand more shade, but it has a more open habit and produces fewer flowers. Once established, it can be quite heat- and drought-tolerant, and deer won’t browse it. Only prune it to remove dead, broken, or poorly formed branches in order to keep its shape. As a rhizomatous plant, it sprouts from the ground and can grow into a thicket or be cut into a privacy hedge.

How to prune Berberis darwinii

Pruning Darwin’s barberry is not always necessary, but it can significantly increase its vigour. Also, if you intend to use Darwin’s barberry as a hedge plant, you should begin shaping it as soon as possible. You can thin the crown by trimming branches to improve ventilation and sunlight. This decreases humidity and the growth of leaf pathogens (they thrive more in humid and dark places). Pruning should be done in the spring to avoid exposing bare and growing tissues to excessive moisture in the autumn or frost damage in the winter. Trim old and infected branches, as well as branches that grow outside of the desired shape. The golden rule is to avoid removing more than one-third of the canopy, and all cuts must be made with a slight angle away from the bud.

Propagation Berberis darwinii By Cuttings

From late summer to mid-autumn, semi-hard wood cuttings are taken from the current year’s growth; the cuttings have a hard bottom and a soft top. Take a cutting of about 14 cm with a sharp knife, remove the lowest leaves, dip the end in rooting hormone, and place it around the edge of a pot with suitable compost. Water well; they must stay moist until rooted; place under glass but in partial shade.