5 Fabulous berry plants

Fall is here, no matter what the 15-day forecast says, and berries are popping out all over the garden. If you feel you're missing out on the berry action, then check out the berry-laden plants below. Now is a perfect time to plant trees and shrubs (and yes, perennials, too). Figure out where you could use a pop of berry color and go for it.

Don't forget. Many of the berry-filled trees and shrubs are four-season interest plants, What does that mean? They offer the garden ornamental features in all four seasons. They bloom, are evergreen, have interesting winter architecture or bark, have fall color or fruit, or beautiful foliage for the dog days of summer.  All the more reason to get in on the berry action. Plus: You'll make the birds happy.    

For more fall favorites, click here

First up: Viburnums. Vie-BUR-Num

Viburnums are spring blooming, very showy shrubs that like full sun to part shade. Their flowers are primarily white, and their size is 10-12' x 10-12', though they can be larger or smaller. They are good companion plants with rhododendrons, azaleas, and other broadleaf evergreens. Some viburnums, like 'Conoy' and 'Pragense' are evergreen.

  • Evergreen, semi-evergreen, and deciduous woody plants.
  • Zone: 4-8.
  • Many are native to North America (just as many are native to South America and Southeast Asia).
  • Ideal for flowers, fruit, and foliage--a four-season plant.
  • Spring bloomers. Some are highly fragrant. Most are white, or pink-hued, to pink. 
  • Berries are yellow, blue, black and red.
  • Tolerate most any soil, but happiest in a moist, well-drained soil.
  • Full sun to part shade. 

Linden viburnum in bloom. Viburnum dilatatum, a deciduous viburnum that grows 8'-10' x 6'-8'.  It can handle quite a bit of shade and even moist soils. The blooms resemble a lacecap hydrangea.  

Linden viburnum, Viburnum dilatatum, a deciduous viburnum whose berries are particularly showy, and last into the winter. 

Second: Beautyberry, The Name Says it all

Callicarpa americana, or purple beautyberry or American beautyberry is a layered shrub with violet berries that are very showy in late summer through fall. It reaches reaches 5' x 5' and likes to spread out in a full sun setting. A new cultivar called 'Pearl Glam' saves space with its upright growth habit. Its foliage is purple, and it matures at 4'-5' x 3'-4'. A good alternative if space is limited.  

  • Native to the Southeastern United States.
  • Zone 6-10.
  • Flowers are white to lavender, not showy.
  • Ideal for the violet berries. 
  • Full sun to part shade, but best in full sun.
  • Performs well in clay soils.
  • Perfect for naturalizing.
  • Violet berries begin showing in late summer to early fall. 

American beautyberry, Callicarpa americana. A native, this shrub is best in full sun and likes clay soil. Give it plenty of room to grow. 

Third: Winterberry, A Deciduous Holly the Birds Love

Ilex verticillata or winterberry is a deciduous holly that grows 8'-12' x 8'-12' as straight species. Smaller cultivars stay 3'-4' x 3'-4'. In late August to mid-September, the berries begin to show. By the time the shrub has lost its leaves, the berries are full and bright. They stay on the shrub until early spring when the robins finish them off.  

  • Native to Eastern North America.
  • Zone 3-9.
  • Full sun to part shade, but does best in full sun.
  • Can handle wet soils, erosion, and clay. Consider them for boggy areas and rain gardens.
  • Flowers are greenish white, insignificant.
  • Berries are orange or red.
  • This one needs a pollinator.

'Wintergold' winterberry has yellowish-orange berries. Shrub matures at 5'-8' x 5'-8'.  

Winterberry 'Red Sprite' has bright red berries. This plant loves water, so put it in a boggy place, a rain garden, or just make sure it gets watered well until established. 

Fourth: Hawthorns, an Overlooked tree

Crataegus viridis or Hawthorn trees are native trees with a lot to offer. Beautiful spring blooms, tons of bright red berries, great fall color and a small size perfect for landscapes, yet they are often overlooked in the landscape. Like sourwood trees, they are beginning to find their place in the trade, and they're worth the real estate for the berries alone. 

  • Native to the Southeastern United States.
  • Zone 4-7.
  • Full sun to partial shade.
  • Matures at 25'-35' x 25'-35'. 
  • Tolerates drought, clay soil, and dry soil.
  • Fragrant, white flowers in spring. 
  • Bright red berries in fall through winter.
  • Leaves turn purple to red in fall.
  • Tolerates urban pollution, perfect for parking areas.

A flowering hawthorn tree in spring is a spectacular sight. The white flowers are fragrant. This native tree is easy to grow, tolerating a variety of soils and conditions. Best in full sun, but performs in partial shade. 

Hawthorn berries hang onto well into winter, giving the birds and the gardener enjoyment. 

Fifth: St. John's Wort, So Many New Cultivars

If you don't have the space for trees or big shrubs, try Hypericum or St. John's Wort. A smaller shrub that can fit easily into the foundation planting of your home, its yellow blooms and bright berries are a pretty addition to flower arrangements. (Ask staff to help you with these. Hypericum is many things: annuals, perennial groundcovers, and shrubs. You want the shrub.)

  • 2'-4' x 2'-4', grows rapidly.
  • Zone 4-8.
  • Evergreen, semi-evergreen and deciduous.
  • Many to choose from: 'Blue Velvet,' 'Sunburst,' 'Mystical Glory.'
  • Showy yellow blooms.
  • Bright orange-red berries. 
  • Tolerates poor soils, but prefers a moist, well-drained soil.
  • Full sun to partial shade.
  • Drought tolerant.
  • Deer resistant.

St. John's Wort in late summer. The berries are starting to color and the blooms are still showing. This semi-evergreen shrub is a perfect addition to small landscapes. The birds love the berries.

Written by Cinthia Milner, garden coach, blog writer and outside sales staff.

BB Barns Garden Center serves all of Western North Carolina, upstate South Carolina, and Tennessee.