The unique Bonanza Gold Barberry combines the bright red new foliage of red-leaf barberry bushes with the golden foliage of yellow varieties, producing an exciting shrub that always offers new color effects throughout the season. Plus, it has the scarlet and red fall foliage and red berries that make barberry plants full of interest in fall too. All this on a low-growing shrub that fits into smaller gardens or smaller spaces, and that makes beautiful low hedges and edging as well.
The Bonanza Gold Barberry is a small, deciduous shrub growing between 18 and 24 inches tall, and spreading out between 2 and 3 feet wide. Its broad, spreading habit makes it ideal for the front of beds, and for attractive low edging along paths, drives and beds. Planted alone in a smaller garden it brings a bright splash of colors, different in all three seasons. In spring the new growth is the bright red we see in other varieties of barberry with red leaves. This bright splash in a great way to start the growing season, and contrasts with the fresh young green of other shrubs in spring.
As the leaves mature they become golden yellow, and this bright and cheerful color persists all through late spring and summer. Gold is a wonderful garden color, because it fits so well with all shades of green, as well as blue foliage, and it looks great with red and orange flowers too. New growth in late spring and summer is bright red, like the spring leaves, soon becoming gold as it matures. As the colder nights of fall arrive, the leaves become glowing shades of bright red and scarlet, making a great fall feature in your garden – this truly is a three-season plant.
In late spring you may see small clusters of yellow flowers along the branches too, and these develop gradually through the summer to become bunches of bright-red berries, which are inconspicuous until the branches are bare, when they become a showy feature of early winter, until they are taken for winter food by wild birds.
Growing Bonanza™ Gold Barberry Shrubs
With all this color you might think the Bonanza Gold Barberry was hard to grow, but no, this tough plant is fast-growing, trouble-free, and thrives in ordinary garden conditions. Plant it in full sun for the brightest colors, as in shade the yellow color will turn greener. Unlike some other colored barberry bushes, this one is much more tolerant to heat and bright sun, and it doesn’t suffer very much from the sun scald that some other varieties do. Sun scald can make the leaves burn and fall, leaving bare, unsightly twigs in summer, just when you want your garden to be at its best.
Planting and Initial Care
Plant the Bonanza Gold Barberry in any ordinary soil, except for wet soils, and once established this shrub is resistant to all but severe drought conditions. It has no significant pests or diseases in normal circumstances, and the only hazard are the tiny spines along the stems, which deter deer and make this plant a good barrier to smaller animals that may enter your garden. For an edging, space a line of plants 18 inches to 24 inches apart, and you can trim the plants into a neat, solid hedge within a couple of growing seasons. For a less formal look, just let them grow naturally together. This plant rarely needs pruning, but older bushes will benefit from having a few of the oldest stems removed at the base, in late winter, before new growth begins.
History and Origins of the Bonanza™ Gold Barberry
Japanese Barberry (berberis thunbergii) is found growing wild in China and Japan. It arrived in America in 1875, brought over by explorers from the Arnold Arboretum in Boston, part of Harvard University. It was very popular in its original form, with green leaves, yellow flowers and red berries, because it was both beautiful and easy to grow. Colored leaf forms began to appear in France by the beginning of the 20th century, and today with have a variety of red-leaf and gold-leaf forms.
The variety called ‘Bogazam’, sold under the trade-marked name of Bonanza Gold, was created in 1971 by a controlled breeding program. Nicholas Moretti, at his nursery, Moretti Nursery, in Perry, Ohio, crossed two older Japanese barberry varieties, `Atropurpurea Nana` and `Aurea`, and grew the resulting seedlings. One was especially attractive, with vigorous growth, a dwarf spreading habit, and golden leaves. It became ‘Bogazam’, and today it is still one of the very best dwarf golden-leaf barberry bushes available. The plant was patented in 1993, (PP# 8,215), and this patent expired in 2013. Our plants are produced from stem cuttings tracing back to the original plant, and they are exactly true to all its qualities. Barberry bushes are very popular, for their vigor, beauty, and ease of growth. Our stock will not last long, so order now.