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Heat Tolerance of Barberry Plants

Posted by plantingman 6b (SC KS climate) (My Page) on
Mon, Feb 3, 14 at 18:06

I've heard conflicting reports about the heat tolerance of Berberis thunbergii. Some people say, as I always thought, that Berberis thunbergii was extfremely heat and drought tolerant, but others say it will scorch with enough heat. Does anyone in a southern climate have any experience with barberry plants who can clear this up?
I am considering planting a Berberis thunbergii atropurpurea (red baraberry) and a Berberis thunbergii 'Green Carpet' (Green Carpet Barberry) on the south side of my house where they will get full, blazing sun from sunrise to sunset and reflected heat from the house. They will be in well-drained, sandy soil, so wet soil won't be an issue. Do you think they will scorch, or should they thrive?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Heat Tolerance of Barberry Plants

"Some people say, as I always thought, that Berberis thunbergii was ext f remely heat and drought tolerant, but others say it will scorch with enough heat."

Both statements are true, except I might replace "extremely" with "fairly". I've seen them do well in very dry locations here in Tennessee right between concrete slabs. In especially dry times, I have seen them drop their leaves. They usually bounce right back though.

Can you tell us where you're at. I can't understand the "SC KS climate" part of your member info.


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RE: Heat Tolerance of Barberry Plants

Well, we have hot dry summers and cold dry winters. But then there are those rare occasions where we have a mild and very wet summer or a warmer winter. It's just a border zone that normally leans toward a more southern climate but occasionally can act like a more northern climate. That's Kingman, KS for you. I try to pick plants that are drought and heat tolerant but that are cold hardy and tolerate wetness too. Maybe that's why I see a lot of the same kind of plants around here.


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RE: Heat Tolerance of Barberry Plants

I had a feeling this was the case, but wanted to verify your location first...Berberis thunbergii is an invasive (environmentally damaging) plant in your area. It's not as problematic in Kansas as some other plants, but is documented to be problematic there (see link below). At least one cultivar, Berberis thunbergii 'Concorde' is supposedly near sterile, so shouldn't be a problem. If I were you, I'd contact my local Ag Extension Office and let them give you a list of alternatives well suited to your area. You can find your local office here: www.ksre.ksu.edu/Map.aspx

Here is a link that might be useful: Kansas Forest Service Publication


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RE: Heat Tolerance of Barberry Plants

Hey, brandon7 - I went to the publication and saw that it said "Common Forest Invasive Species." There is very little forest in SC KS! However, the list is very comprehensive and I have seen many plants on the list invade naturalized parks that do have wooded areas. They have been trying to regain control of the invasives at Riggs Arboretum near plantingman. Honestly haven't seen barberry do that, not to say it hasn't gotten away somewhere around here.

B. thunbergii cvs., B. x gladwynensis ‘William Penn’ and B. x mentorensis are used in landscaping a lot in this area, and, at least in urban settings I honestly can say that I haven't seen a barberry invasion around here. Actually, they are used because of their toughness against the extremes that plantingman mentioned. They also can tolerate our high pH soils. The soils and climatic extremes are probably why they are limited in their invasiveness. I know that the genus is very invasive in other areas.

The same is true for things like English ivy, Vinca minor, burningbush and others that are very invasive elsewhere. This place eats 'em up!

I can vouch for the hardiness of B. thunbergii in general, but know that some of the cultivars do scorch. plantingman, I'm not experienced with 'Green Carpet' so can't advise you on that one. Gut feeling is that it is worth a try, maybe experiment with a 1 gallon size. I have never had a scorch problem with regular red barberry once established.

hortster


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RE: Heat Tolerance of Barberry Plants

The link is from the Kansas Forest Service, but the plants are not confined to forests. Also, even the forest areas that the KFS is concerned with are not what many would consider forests. Examples of what could be considered forest areas include places with trees like windbreaks, shelterbelts, streamside vegetation, and fence rows.

Berberis thunbergii has naturalized in at least four Kansas counties (and very possibly more). As I said, I don't think this species is nearly as much of a problem as a few others, but I also don't think the problem is so small that it should be ignored, especially if other alternatives are available. Barberries can be an attractive plant, but if you have to weed around one or remove debris from one, you won't like them as much anyway. I think there are very likely much better choices available.


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RE: Heat Tolerance of Barberry Plants

This is why I like coming to GW, I usually get very hepful info. I agree with Hortster concerning plants that are supposed to be invasive. They aren't much of an issue around here. There are some that are though. Ailanthus altissima (Tree of Heaven) is one that comes to mind.
If I decide against barberry, it won't be because of any potentially invasive issues, it would be because of the painful thorns. Ouch!
I do think that an alternating row of red and green barberry shrubs would be kind of cool to look at, but I haven't decided if the thorns are a good trade off.


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RE: Heat Tolerance of Barberry Plants

"plants that are supposed to be invasive...aren't much of an issue around here."

I don't think Hortster would ever say that. He was referring only to the species Berberis thunbergii.. There are certainly invasive plants in your area! Different areas have different plants that seem to thrive (to the point of being a problem) there. Also, thriving can be relative. Just because your ecosystem does not match what you think of when you think of invasive plants, doesn't mean you are home free. It's your decision whether to plant a Berberis. Doing so, may be the equivalent of throwing some cigarette butts out of the window while going down the highway or it may be worse. I doubt anyone, familiar with Kansas and the particular species, would say that it was like dumping toxic waste, but it never hurts to step back and evaluate the situation.


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RE: Heat Tolerance of Barberry Plants

  • Posted by whaas 5a SE WI (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 4, 14 at 21:31

Pman, are these foundation plants or border plants near the foundation? Looks like you're after a heat and drought tolerant purple foliage plant.

Its a perrenial but worth consideration. They appear to be much more heat and drought tolerant than Barberry in my garden.

They attract hummingbirds and butterflies too. Might be worth a look.

Penstemon 'Dark Towers'


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RE: Heat Tolerance of Barberry Plants

Thanks, Waas. Yes, you're correct. I am looking for a heat and drought tolerant purple foliage plant. But I also wanted one that flowered, since flowers are what i'm most interested in. I was fetting so frustrated that i was ready to give up on a flowering plant and just look at foliage. Thus the reason for looking towards barberry, which I really didn't want to do.
That Penstemon 'Dark Towers' is a great suggestion. I also just remembered another plant I had recently researched, the Midnight Magic Crape Myrtle. It's kind of big, but it might be an option too.


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RE: Heat Tolerance of Barberry Plants

brandon7, you are correct in that there are many invasive plants here, and I share your concerns about them. We judge "invasiveness" on our own experience in a given area. Honestly, in my travels here over many, many years in SC KS I can't recall noticing rampant volunteering of barberries, although I'm sure somewhere there might have been. Trust me, I have been through many naturalized areas around here and literally thousands of residential landscapes.

The nursery where I worked grew them in their fields which were adjacent to wooded bottomland. They grew large enough finished plants to produce berries. I never saw any barberries in or along the woods. And the soil there was pretty ideal for plant growth. I'm not saying that it can't happen, but as said previously the combination of climate and maybe soil pH seems to somehow stifle rampant reproduction of that particular genus around here. True, in other parts of the state with friendlier conditions it might be a different story.

hortster


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RE: Heat Tolerance of Barberry Plants

I haven't noticed Berberis thunbergii being as bad here as it's supposed to be. The Tn-EPPC has it listed in the "Significant Threat" category, but I have seen only few examples of it naturalizing here. One or two plants in an area. Like you said about KS, it may be a bigger problem in other parts of our state. Based on my experience with it here, the thorns are surely sharper here than anywhere else (-;

This post was edited by brandon7 on Wed, Feb 5, 14 at 13:17


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