How to Take Care of Barberry Bushes


Barberry bushes (Berberis spp.) are desirable for their showy colors, thorny, deer-resistant branches and slow, uniform growth. These hardy plants require minimum maintenance, according to information published by Clemson University, and can tolerate a wide range of adverse environmental conditions, including pollution, and are widely used in urban landscapes. There are three primary species of barberry bushes: Japanese, Wintergreen and Mentor. While the latter grows faster than the former two, the care needs of all three are the same.

Step 1

Provide plenty of sun for your plant. Choose a planting site that will expose the barberry to full sun, or morning sun with a bit of dappled afternoon shade. While these plants will grow even in full shade, the deep colors of the foliage, some cultivars are even purple, will be much brighter with some exposure to sunlight, according to information published by the University of Florida.

Step 2

Grow your barberry in well-draining soil. These hardy shrubs can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions from clay to loamy, as long as they are not sitting in soggy soil. Do not plant your shrub in any location that collects standing water. Overly saturated soil can lead to root rot, a fungal disease that destroys the roots of the plant.

Step 3

Water newly planted shrubs when the top 2 or 3 inches of soil dries out. Established shrubs planted in clay soil need little to no supplementary watering, according to information published by the University of California.

Step 4

Prune your barberry sparingly, if at all. Information published by Clemson University recommends pruning or transplanting immediately after the flowers stop blooming. The shrub tolerates transplanting very well, but grows slowly, so any vigorous pruning should be done with that fact in mind.

Step 5

Fertilize your barberry in early spring with a 10-10-10 water-soluble fertilizer for shrubs.

Things You'll Need

  • Watering tool
  • Pruning tools
  • 10-10-10 water-soluble fertilizer


  • University of Florida: Berberis Thunbergii
  • Clemson University: Barberry
  • University of California: Berberis spp.

Who Can Help

  • USDA: Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: care of barberries, barberry bush care, growing Berberis plants

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.