Plants With Ornamental Berries

According to Virginia State University horticulturists, broad leaf landscape plants are valued for their evergreen foliage, but many have other desirable ornamental traits. For many gardeners, a desired feature is the production of ornamental berries. Ornamental berries offer seasonal color and decorative uses. Many regional plant berries are food sources for wildlife and bird species.

Holly

Holly bushes, popular in holiday decorating, make good specimen plants and grow as dense hedges. Sizes range from dwarf varieties ankle-high to large spreading cottage-sized shrubs. Prickly evergreen holly foliage makes the plant a security asset under windows and other house approaches. The seasonal berries are usually bright red, though Japanese holly produces black fruit. The berries and leaves are snipped off for living holiday decorations.

Nandina

Nandina, called Heavenly Bamboo, is an easy care landscape plant. According to Clemson University, nandina lives up to 100 years in temperate climates. Planted in groups or clusters, nandina fruits heavily with clusters of bright red berries. The berries form on flower stems at summer's end and last through winter. Their mature weight often bends over the stem so that the red berries hang as tempting bird fruit and wildlife snacks. These foragers eat the fruit and carry off the seeds, propagating nandina readily in mild climates.

Pyracantha

Pyracantha, often called firethorn, is a spreading shrub that can grow 7 feet high and twice that in width. Its long branches, often covered in long sharp thorns, can be trained along fences or walls. With showy white spring flowers, the plant develop orange berry clusters through summer that last into winter. Some pyracantha cultivars offer red berries. The plant thrives in poor soil, offering an attractive, berry-filled branching plant for marginal plots or driveway fences.

Bayberry

Bayberry offers fragrant leaves and berries. The ornamental plant produces waxy gray berries used in crafts such as candle-making. Scented bayberry candles are a Christmas tradition, perhaps because the tedious berry-gathering of the winter fruit is best suited to special events. The plant is hardy and does not grow well in oft-tended, rich soil gardens. More berries are produced when the plant is in sandy or clay soil. The bayberry is salt-tolerant, making it a good choice for coastal landscapes.

Considerations

Ornamental berry plants are important winter food sources for birds and wildlife. When other foods are scarce, berries draw wild creatures from birds to deer. Low-hanging berries are attractive to rabbits, rats and skunks. Be cautious about planting these shrubs in pet areas as pets may encounter hostile wildlife in search of food. The berries are often messy, either as fruit falls or as fruit poop from wild munchers. Plant away from sidewalks and windows or snip off fruit stems in problem areas.

Keywords: ornamental shrub, ornamental berries, wildlife berries

About this Author

Phyllis Benson is a professional writer and creative artist. Her 25-year background includes work as an editor, syndicated reporter and feature writer for publications including "Journal Plus," "McClatchy Newspapers" and "Sacramento Union." Benson earned her Bachelor of Science degree at California Polytechnic University.