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Barberry Shrubs

Q.Barberry Hedge (Deep Crimson) is growing branches with Light Green Leaves. Is this sucker growth?

Zone Oxford, MI 48371 - Zone 6a | Bob Agresta added on July 3, 2018 | Answered

We have a hedge on the north side of our driveway made up of 8 Barberry plants. They have always had deep Crimson Red leaves and bright red berries in the fall. Each bush is a series of straight, tall stalks coming from a central crown and grow from 3′-6′. Pruning the tops can get them to branch off creating a very nice intertwined hedge without losing the distinction of the individual plants.

We’ve had some tough winters in Michigan, and I pruned many dead branches far back to the crown last fall and early this spring. It is now summer, and on only one plant I have a significant growth of green leafed barberry! My instinct said that this was “sucker growth” from the roots, but the wood, thorns, leafs and even the berries they are producing are identical to the main plant except for the bright Lime Green color. Is this normal? Will it change color over time, or do I have some kind of dormant hybrid root that has sprung to life as a result of my deep pruning?

It might be triggered by the unusual weather cycle we’ve had (bitter cold winter, early hot spring, reverting to cold, subfreezing temperatures and now a blistering hot summer in the upper 90’s.) Stress has been high on many of the plants.

In any event, I don’t like the color contrast in the landscaping theme, so unless it is likely to become the same “red” bush I’ll be pruning it out of the hedge.

Any insight you can provide would be appreciated.

A.Answers to this queston: Add Answer
Answered on July 3, 2018

You sound like an experienced gardener. I'm sure you've seen hybrid plants revert back to their parent plant. Or plants with variegated foliage put out solid green stems. Barberry isn't grafted so suckers, as in grafted roses, is a bit different process. Leave it to the Brits to explain the phenomenon you are seeing - reversion.. https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?PID=273

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