If you’re looking for a plant that provides fall color in the form of berries as well as late season nourishment for the birds than look no further than the beautyberry (Callicarpa). Our beautyberry that we purchased in the spring is turning a deep purple that will last into the winter. While it may never be listed as the birds favorite berry, beautyberries hang around long enough to be a great option for them when there is little else to eat.
There are two easy ways to propagate beautyberries. One way is through the berries themselves. Sow them fresh in the fall and winter once they turn purple with just a little bit of potting mixture or soil covering them. I haven’t tried them from seed yet but it works according to Clemson’s Horticulture Department.
The other method which I have tried and have successfully made four rooted beautyberries is through cuttings. Beautyberry roots very easily from softwood cuttings taken from spring through summer.
To propagate my beautyberry I took 5-6 inch cuttings from a couple branches. I left two leaves at the top of each cutting and removed all the others. Then I placed them in sand in a pot and kept them moist for about 6 weeks. Rooting hormone isn’t necessary but may speed up the rooting time and reliability. Rooting times vary greatly as the two from my last batch just have small tiny roots forming while the other four from the same pot haven’t developed any roots yet. I’m giving them some more time to develop.
Both of the beautyberry cuttings that rooted formed new leaves which provided me a clue that they had roots. It’s not always the case but often when new growth appears on a cutting roots are also present.
I potted up these newly propagated beautyberries and put them next to the other two I potted a few weeks ago on our front porch. Hopefully they will have enough time to develop a good root system before the temperatures get too cold. I either need to plant them in the ground, build a cold-frame, put them in the garage greenhouse, or put the new beautyberries (pot and all) into the ground. Air temperatures can be quite a bit colder than the soil temperature during the winter.
I’m tempted to start some hardwood cuttings this winter after the berries are gone to see how they do. Soon I’ll gather some berries and sow in pots outdoors to test the berry planting method. I would love to have dozens of these plants scattered throughout our gardens, wouldn’t you?
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