Darwins Barberry (Berberis Darwinii) is a dark green, glossy leaved, dense, fragrant, evergreen, edible berry, pest tolerant, multi stemmed and dense shrub with spines which makes it ideal for security hedging, (UKIP supporters, it doesn't keep immigrants out) erosion control, stock proofing, formal and informal hedging. The Holly like leaves and thorns are a great burglar deterrent when planted under windows. The low maintenance and suitability for coastal positions make it particularly appealing to lazy fisherman and time poor surf board instructors. Planted against a wall or fence, the strong colours will make it stand out and the density makes it an ideal wind break shrub. Darwin Barberry is so good, it has the Royal Horticultural Society Award Of Garden Merit which is a long way of saying the experts liked it a lot.
If you like dull white flowers, followed by pink exploding berries that make squirrels jump then Darwins Barberry is not for you as they have fragrant orange flowers followed by non exploding dark blue berries in Autumn. You should expect to see a second flush of orange flowers in the Autumn although this becomes less likely the more exposed your site is. The plant is self fertile so you will get berries without the need for a pollination partner and these are likely to attract wildlife. The berries of Darwin Barberry are edible and be eaten raw or cooked however they have quite a lot of seeds. Be aware that the birds like these berries too but they are happy to eat them before they are fully ripe. Preventative measures include netting or going out at midnight when the birds are not watching and paint the berries an unripe colour. Non preventative measures include moaning about it and excessive tutting.
Expect around 3 m tall and 3 m wide with an average growth rate of around 30 cm. You could encourage speedier growth with some nurturing shouts from the back door e.g. "COME ON, dig deep, we have faith that you can grow more than this". This has proven to be most successful in many imaginary gardens. Failing that we can provide you with a tape measure with the first 50 cm cut off and you will have record breaking hedge growth in no time at all. If you would like higher growth numbers, try measuring in Microns.
If we are out of stock of Darwins Barberry then another option would be Cotoneaster Lacteus as it has a more upright shape/habit and is usually evergreen possibly moving to semi-evergreen under a harsh winter.
Planting Darwins Barberry (Berberis Darwinii)
Darwins Barberry will perform well in most soils to include clay, chalk, sand or loam and acid to alkaline. Poor results to be expected from radioactive and gardens on the moon. Moist but well draining soils will give best results so if you have a heavy clay soil you may want to consider digging a little deeper and mixing the excavated soil 50:50 with well rotted manure or compost.
Plant in full sun or shaded position as it will tolerate shade (this does not mean your basement in a pot). Considered tolerant to minus 15 degrees centigrade making it suitable for nearly everywhere in the UK.
Pruning Darwins Barberry (Berberis Darwinii)
The best way to prune Darwins Barberry is to get some blackmail material on a gardening expert and point them towards your garden. Failing that, cut off the bits you don't want after the risk of frost has gone as you do not want new growth being exposed to freezing temperatures. Alternatively, pruning after berry drop is another good option or let it grow wild for a few years so you can enjoy the drooping flowers and then hard prune. Ask 2 experts on pruning, you will get at least 3 different opinions.
Darwins Barberry is quite sturdy so it will stand a hard prune if you have neglected it for a while although progressive pruning over a period of time is a safer option.
It is always a good idea to prune out dead, diseased and crossing over branches from Darwins Barberry to maintain the health of the shrub.
Potential Problems With Darwins Barberry (Berberis Darwinii)
Powdery mildew may affect Darwins Barberry which can come about when there is sustained warmth and moisture at the same time. Preventative measures are your best approach by watering the base of the plant only and keeping moisture levels down in the garden where possible e.g. improve drainage, keep the grass short, let as much light and air into the garden as possible. If you do get powdery mildew then a Fungicide suitable for ornamental plants may help. Removing all infected material and burning should help reduce the possibility of a reinfection.
The RHS has some excellent information on Powdery Mildew or if the link is broken, it should be listed here
Potentially Brain Numbing Information About Our Darwin Barberry (Berberis Darwinii) Plants
They are sold as plug plants or cell grown which means when they are delivered to you, the roots are encased in the compost they were grown in which has a higher success rate than bare root.
Parts of the plant have been used as an anti-bacterial agent and the roots and bark can be used to make a yellow dye.
Hybridizes freely with other members of the genus and is resistant to Honey Fungus.
Native to Chille and Argentina. Discovered in 1835 by Charles Darwin (not while he was out shopping in the local nurseries) in Chille and introduced to the UK in 1849 by William Lobb.
Alternative uses for Darwins Barberry include making an escape proof maze for your Mother In Law to "accidentally" become lost in.
How many Evergreen Barberry do I need?
We recommend planting 4 plants per metre using the double staggered hedge method or 2-3 for a single row hedge.
What Our Customers Are Saying About Our Barberry Plants
Thanks very much for a great order of berberis darwinii the plants were in great condition and much larger and stronger than I was expecting. These have all been planted now, just waiting for them to grow!Elizabeth Thomas 1113
Thank you - yes, my order of barberry hedging arrived yesterday as planned. Lovely plants, and beautifully packed. We planted them within two hours of receipt, and after many weeks of dry weather here in the north-west it is raining today which will settle them in nicely. Unfortunately, the rain has also brought out the midgies!! Best wishes and thanks for an excellent service. Jane Macintyre. 0812