While a plant's flowers might be the deciding factor in your decision to add it to your garden, many plants compensate for somewhat insignificant blooms with spectacular berry crops. Showy berries come in white, black and all the hues in between. Use berry-producing plants to complement or provide contrast for your blooming ones.
Possumhaw Viburnum 'Brandywine'
Possumhaw (Ilex decidua) is a deciduous shrub reaching up to 30 feet high. Native to the wet woodlands of the southeastern and central United States, wild pososumhaw has gloosy green leaves that become yellow in late autumn. Its thin, twiggy branches produce small white flowers in April and May. Dense clusters of bright red berries remain on the branches all winter, feeding a variety of birds and small mammals.
'Brandywine,' says the Missouri Botanical Garden, is a possumhaw cultivar that grows between 5 and 6 feet high. Its berries, however, aren't red but varying shades of pink and blue, often in a single cluster. Autumn foliage is deep red to maroon. Brandywine prefers moist, loamy soil and full sun to part shade. Plant in groups to provide the cross-pollination needed for maximum bloom and berry production. Prune in early spring or fall.
Beautyberry 'Early Amethyst'
Beautyberry 'Early Amethyst' (Callicarpa dichotoma 'Early Amethyst') lives up to its name. Standing 3 to 4 feet high and up to 5 feet wide, this deciduous shrub has arching branches that may touch the ground. Its June-to-August lavender-pink clusters of small flowers appear above medium green leaves.
Clusters of large, vivid purple berries arrive in late summer and reach their peak in October, when many garden plants have already given up the ghost. Birds feed on the fruit. Massing this shrub for cross-pollination will ensure maximum bloom and berries. Plant it in full sun to part shade and average, medium-moist soil. Late winter or early spring pruning promotes new wood on which the flowers grow.
Carolina coralbead (Cocculus carolinus) is a vine native to the southern and central United States. Reaching between 3 and 15 feet, it has light to medium green, heart-shaped leaves that may be evergreen in southern gardens. Its pale green June to August flowers appear in clusters on both female and male plants. Hanging clusters of bright red berries, a food source for birds, follow them from September to November.
Carolina coralbead, says the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, is a rapid climber and good choice for areas that need quick cover. It spreads by root suckers, however, so it may be difficult to eradicate once it's established. Plant Carolina coralbead in part shade and slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil. It tolerates hot weather and a range of sand, loam and clay soils.