Care of the Crimson Pygmy Barberry


The crimson pygmy barberry (Berberis thunbergii 'Crimson Pygmy' or 'Atropurpurea nana') is a dwarf Japanese barberry shrub that grows to only 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide. This deciduous shrub is deer- and insect-resistant, with deep red foliage and a dense, compact growth habit. The crimson pygmy barberry grows best in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 8, tolerating winter temperatures down to minus 25 degrees Fahrenheit. The small shrub also produces bright red ornamental berries in fall when the foliage begins to turn orange-scarlet.

Step 1

Plant your crimson pygmy barberry in full sunlight and in well-draining soil. Spread a 3- to 4-inch-thick layer of bark mulch on the ground around the base of the shrub to help retain soil moisture and control weeds.

Step 2

Water your pygmy barberry once per week in the absence of rainfall to provide 1 to 2 inches of water each week. Water the shrub two to three times per week during extreme summer heat or droughts.

Step 3

Feed your crimson pygmy barberry once each year in early spring, right before new growth emerges. Apply a slow-release, all-purpose fertilizer according to the instructions on the label.

Step 4

Trim the barberry shrub in winter to keep it tidy. Remove all damaged, broken, crowded or crossing growth, and shear the shrub to shape it if desired.

Tips and Warnings

  • Don't allow your pygmy barberry to dry out completely, especially during the first year after planting it. Watering the shrub regularly and thoroughly during the first growing season is crucial to proper root development.

Things You'll Need

  • Bark mulch
  • Garden hose or watering can
  • Slow-release, all-purpose shrub fertilizer
  • Pruning shears


  • Monrovia: Crimson Pygmy Dwarf Japanese Barberry

Who Can Help

  • Brighter Blooms: Crimson Pygmy Barberry
Keywords: crimson pygmy barberry, dwarf Japanese barberry, pygmy barberry care

About this Author

Sarah Terry brings 10 years of experience writing novels, business-to-business newsletters, and a plethora of how-to articles. Terry has written articles and publications for a wide range of markets and subject matters, including Medicine & Health, Eli Financial, Dartnell Publications and Eli Journals.