Concorde BarberryBerberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea 'Concorde'
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Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea 'Concorde'
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
The Concorde Barberry is the perfect small shrub to bring bright reds and purples to those smaller spaces in your garden. Growing between 18 and 24 inches tall, and the same across, it makes a dense mound of branches covered in small, round leaves, that begin the year red in spring, turn deep red-purple all summer, and then become bright red in fall. Bright yellow flowers add an extra touch in spring. Its smaller size makes this bush ideal for edging, foreground groups in beds, or as a permanent colorful shrub in your planter boxes and containers. You can rest easy too about the negative effect of this barberry on the environment, because it produces almost no seeds, and it has been approved after years of research as a safe variety to grow.
The Concorde Barberry grows almost everywhere, from zone 4 to zone 8. Plant it in a sunny or partially-shaded area, in any kind of soil that is not constantly wet. Once established it is very drought resistant, so it’s ideal for those hot, dry spots, and even for xeric, low-water gardening. Tough, easy to grow, pest, disease and deer resistant, you will find so many uses for this colorful little shrub around your garden that you will wonder how you ever lived without it.
The range of shrubs and trees with colored foliage available to gardeners continues to grow. With less time for our gardens, but still wanting color and interest, colored foliage has become the ‘go-to’ for months and months of color, replacing of the brief showing of most flowering plants. You can still of course grow flowers, but colored shrubs give a solid background of interest, and bright leaves never fail to look exciting in the garden. Colored shrubs come in many colors, from the blues of evergreens to the bright yellows of many unique plants. Of them all, though, red and purples remain the most popular, because they bring such a lift, and such brightness, to the garden, standing out against the regular green of more ordinary plants.
The only problem is that many shrubs are too large for foreground planting, or in a small garden, so we were excited when we saw the Concorde Barberry. We knew right away that this terrific shrub would have wide appeal, and be useful to so many gardeners, in so many different situations. Its compact size, combined with rich reds and purples, makes this the standout shrub everywhere you need ‘small and bright’ from a tough, low-maintenance bush. Welcome to easy gardening.
The Concorde Barberry is a reliable, hardy shrub growing about 18 inches tall and certainly no more than 24 inches tall, with a spread of up to 24 inches. It makes a broad, rounded mound of dense branches, covered in small leaves which are brightly colored in red and purple. The young shoots are red, so that in spring the plant is a bright patch of richness against the spring greens.
As summer comes they darken, and become maroon-purple, while the newer leaves are red, making a rich tapestry of blended colors. All through the hot months this color endures, not fading to dirty green, as happens with many other plants with colored leaves. Then in fall, with colder nights, the leaves turn bright scarlet, making a bold splash to finish the season for another year. In spring small yellow flowers hang in clusters from the branches, adding even more brightness. A scattering of red berries may hang on the plant in early winter, but this bush has very few, if any, berries.
This versatile small shrub has so many uses it is hard to know where to begin. Do you want a low edging to a bed, along a path or lawn? Plant the Concorde Barberry 15 to 18 inches apart, and you have it. Clipping is an option extra for the meticulous gardener. Splashes of color among other small shrubs and flowering plants? One plant, or in a larger space a group of three or five plants of the Concorde Barberry will do the trick. Looking for container plants that don’t need annual replacement, but bring all-season color? You’ve got it with the Concorde Barberry.
The Concorde Barberry grows well even in zone 4, but it is still happy in zone 8, which means that almost everyone can grow one. It thrives in full sun, but a couple of hours of shade will not be a problem. Too much shade and it will still grow, but less densely, and some green will creep into the leaf color. As for soil, as long as it is not sitting in water, you have a happy plant. Any reasonably-drained soil will work, from sand to clay. As well, this plant really enjoys drier soils, and once established it will tolerate drought and even xeric conditions.
If watering is a problem in your area, then you can still grow this plant – just make sure you give it some water during its first growing season, to become established and spread its roots about. Pests and diseases don’t bother it, and deer won’t munch it either. (It has spines on the stems, but these will not be a problem for you, as they are tucked under the leaves out of harm’s way).
In some areas, barberry is not welcome, because it can seed and be spread by birds into surrounding natural areas, displacing native plants. Not wanting to give up completely, scientists at the University of Connecticut spent 7 years studying the many different forms, measuring their seed production and invasion potential. They produced a list of ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ varieties of barberry, and although some old favorites are no longer acceptable, the Concorde Barberry is on their ‘acceptable’ list, because it produces almost no seed, meaning it can never escape into natural areas. Growers in many places have accepted that list, and we too, as responsible suppliers, only sell ‘safe’ varieties. So you can rest easy – your ecological responsibilities are completely fulfilled, but you can still enjoy the rich color of a purple barberry – the Concorde variety.
Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii) grows wild in China and Japan. The first plants arrived in America in 1875, collected by explorers from the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. It quickly became popular in gardens for its yellow flowers and red berries and proved very easy to grow. Forms with purple leaves first appeared in France at the beginning of the 20th century, and the Dutch too created several. It is not clear exactly where or when the ‘Concorde’ variety was found, but we can thank the anonymous creator for their discovery of this terrific dwarf shrub.
This plant must be produced from stem pieces, and not from seed, otherwise that rich coloring and dwarf form will be lost. Our plants are produced that way – from stem pieces – so you get exactly the right colorful dwarf shrub. Now that barberry is back on the ‘safe for the environment’ list, demand is high for these versatile plants. Order now while we still have material to send you.
Although Japanese Barberry is quite popular throughout the US, it is found to be invasive in a number of states including our home state of MD. Although it can be bought and planted it should be planted with caution. it is listed as a tier-2 invasive plant in Maryland.
Given its vibrant red-purple foliage, the Concorde Barberry pairs well with plants that have contrasting colors. Yellow or gold foliage plants like Golden Euonymus or Gold Mop Cypress can create a striking contrast. Similarly, green foliage plants or those with silver leaves can also complement the rich color of the Concorde Barberry. Since it’s a small shrub, it can be paired with taller plants or trees without the risk of being overshadowed. However, ensure that the companion plants have similar sun and soil requirements for a harmonious co-existence.
Pruning is not a necessity for the Concorde Barberry as it maintains a neat, compact shape naturally. However, if you wish to maintain a specific shape or size, it’s best to prune it in late winter or early spring before new growth begins. Be cautious of the spines on the stems while pruning. Always wear protective gloves and use sharp, clean pruning shears for the task.
Yes, the Concorde Barberry can be grown in a pot. Its compact size makes it an ideal choice for container gardening. Ensure the pot has adequate drainage holes to prevent waterlogging. Although it’s drought resistant, regular watering is necessary, especially in the first growing season. The soil should be well-draining and the pot should be placed in a sunny or partially shaded location for optimal growth.
The Concorde Barberry is a hardy shrub that’s resistant to most common pests and diseases. However, like any plant, it’s not completely immune. Watch out for signs of common shrub pests like aphids, scale, and spider mites. Diseases such as root rot can occur if the plant is in waterlogged soil. Regularly check your plant for any signs of distress and take appropriate action promptly. Despite these potential threats, the Concorde Barberry is generally a low-maintenance plant.
The growth rate of the Concorde Barberry is moderate. Under optimal conditions, it can reach its full size of 18-24 inches in height and width in about 2-3 years. However, this can vary depending on the growing conditions such as sunlight, soil type, and watering practices.
Organic mulches like wood chips, shredded bark, or compost are ideal for the Concorde Barberry. These mulches help retain soil moisture, regulate soil temperature, and add nutrients to the soil as they decompose. Apply a 2-3 inch layer of mulch around the base of the plant, keeping it a few inches away from the stem to prevent rot.
Yes, the Concorde Barberry can be propagated from stem cuttings. Since it produces almost no seeds, propagation from seeds is not a viable option. The best time to take cuttings is in late spring or early summer. Choose a healthy, disease-free stem and cut a 4-6 inch piece. Remove the lower leaves and plant the cutting in a pot with well-draining soil. Keep the soil moist and place the pot in a location with indirect light. With proper care, the cutting should root in a few weeks.
The Concorde Barberry is a hardy and durable shrub that can live for many years with proper care. While the exact lifespan can vary, it’s not uncommon for this shrub to thrive for 20-30 years or more. Its resistance to pests, diseases, and deer further contribute to its longevity.
Yes, the Concorde Barberry is frost tolerant. It can grow well in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8, which means it can withstand winter temperatures down to -30°F. However, in the first winter after planting, it’s a good idea to provide some extra protection like a layer of mulch around the base to help the plant establish.
The Concorde Barberry is not particularly fussy about soil fertility. However, for optimal growth and color, you can feed it with a slow-release, balanced fertilizer in early spring before new growth begins. Ensure the fertilizer is well-balanced, meaning it has equal parts Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying fertilizer.