Fireball Japanese Barberry

Berberis thunbergii 'Fireball' (PP #21,100)

2 Reviews

Fireball Japanese Barberry

Berberis thunbergii 'Fireball' (PP #21,100)

2 Reviews

This product is currently out of stock and unavailable.


How are the heights measured?

All tree, and nothin' but the tree! We measure from the top of the soil to the top of the tree; the height of the container or the root system is never included in our measurements.

What is a gallon container?

Nursery containers come in a variety of different sizes, and old-school nursery slang has stuck. While the industry-standard terminology is to call the sizes "Gallon Containers", that doesn't exactly translate to the traditional liquid "gallon" size we think of. You'll find we carry young 1-gallons, up to more mature 7-gallons ranging anywhere from 6 inches to 6ft.

How does the delivery process work?

All of our orders ship via FedEx Ground! Once your order is placed online, our magic elves get right to work picking, staging, boxing and shipping your trees. Orders typically ship out within 2 business days. You will receive email notifications along the way on the progress of your order, as well as tracking information to track your plants all the way to their new home!

Why are some states excluded from shipping?

The short & sweet answer is: "United States Department of Agriculture Restrictions." Every state has their own unique USDA restrictions on which plants they allow to come into their state. While we wish we could serve everyone, it's for the safety of native species and helps prevent the spread of invasive disease & pests. We've gotta protect good ole' Mother Nature, after all.

About Me


The Fireball Japanese Barberry is a round, compact shrub with the richest and brightest red leaves of any barberry bush. It grows just 1 or 2 feet tall and broad, making it perfect for the front of beds, as edging, or as a low hedge. In spring it is bright red, holding its color all summer, and in fall taking darker tones, bringing brilliance to your garden for months and months. It doesn’t flower or produce seeds, so it can be grown safely even in areas where Berberis is prohibited because of its invasion of natural areas.

  • Round compact ball needs no trimming
  • Strongest red leaf color of any Barberry
  • Keeps its color all summer, without greening out
  • Resistant to drought, cold, pollution and deer
  • Excellent for edging and low barriers

Cold doesn’t bother the Fireball Japanese Barberry, and neither does drought, once it is established. It grows well in full sun or light partial shade, and in any soil, from sand to clay, that is well-drained. Its tough roots hold the soil on slopes, and it grows well in hot, dry places. This tough plant tolerates urban conditions and needs no trimming to stay neat, tidy and bright. Pests and diseases are not a problem, and deer normally leave it alone.

Plant Hardiness Zones 4-8
Mature Width 1-2
Mature Height 1-2
Sun Needs Full Sun, Partial Sun
Zones 4-8

*This variety produces little or no viable seed, so it cannot become invasive. It is safe to grow even where Berberis is restricted.

Image a plant that is incredibly tough and easy to grow, but that will bring the most powerful color into your garden. Staying small and compact, it is ideal for low hedges, filling the front of garden beds, planting around your home, or on slopes and in rough areas, and needs no particular care. If you are having trouble thinking of something, here is a clue – the Fireball Japanese Barberry. 

Growing Fireball Japanese Barberry Shrubs

The Fireball Japanese Barberry is a compact, rounded deciduous shrub that needs no clipping to stay neat and attractive. It grows between 12 and 24 inches tall and forms a neat ball the same size across. It is fast-growing and soon becomes an attractive feature in your garden, however you use it. Without a doubt this is the brightest Japanese Barberry available. The leaves are a brilliant red from the moment they emerge in spring, and all through the summer months. In fall their color deepens, and for solid, reliable and permanent red, this bush is simply unbeatable. As well, although there have been issues with some Japanese Barberry invading natural areas in some parts of the country, this plant has no flowers, so it cannot and does not produce any seed, so it can never spread. You can grow it anywhere and protect your natural surroundings as well.


The Fireball Japanese Barberry is incredibly versatile, and it is very easy to grow. Plant it as color specimens among other low shrubs in the foreground of your beds. Plant it in groups, spacing plants 12 to 15 inches apart, to fill larger areas. It looks great in the foreground of those larger evergreens growing around your home, or in wilder parts of the garden, where it looks equally at home. Plant it on a slope for beauty and erosion control from its dense shoots and roots. Use it among boulders and in rock gardens, with colorful evergreens of different forms and tones. Use it in rows as an edging, or to make a beautiful boundary along a pathway or driveway. The stems are spiny, so it also makes an impenetrable barrier for two-legged and four-legged unwelcome visitors.

Initial Care

The Fireball Japanese Barberry is very easy to grow almost anywhere. It is hardy all through zone 4, where it is especially appreciated since many other plants are not hardy there. It grows all the way down into zone 8, so almost everywhere in the country it will thrive. It grows best in full sun, developing the richest and strongest colors on its leaves, but it will also tolerate a little partial shade, so it will grow in a lot of places in your garden. It grows in almost all soils, from sand to clay, just as long as it is well-drained – wet soil is not suitable for this plant. Once established it is very drought resistant, so it really shines for those hot, sunny and dry spots in your garden. It never suffers from any pests or diseases, even deer leave it alone, and it thrives in tough urban conditions. 

History and Origins of Fireball Japanese Barberry Shrubs

The Fireball Japanese Barberry is a specially-created form of the Japanese barberry, Berberis thunbergii. That plant was immediately popular when it was first brought to America in 1875, by plant collectors from the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. They found it growing in Japan, and its yellow flowers and red berries were a big hit at the time. Since then it has become a reliable garden staple, especially in cold climates, although the original green leaf form is now almost never grown. In the early 20th century red leaf forms were found among seedlings in France, and a dwarf form of these, called ‘Atropurpurea Nana’ provided the pollen that created the variety called ‘Fireball’. It was used in a controlled breeding program by the prolific Barberry breeder Michal Andrusiv, at his breeding station in Litomyšl, in the Czech Republic. In 1994 he used that pollen to create seeds from the variety ‘Goldalita’, a dwarf variety with small golden leaves. 

From the batch of seedlings that grew he selected one that stood out for its fiery color and neat form, and that was the original Fireball Japanese Barberry. It is protected by Plant Breeder Rights in Europe since 2008, and it was patented in the USA in 2010. It can only be reproduced from stem pieces, and the license is held by PlantHaven International Inc., a distributor who specialize in shrubs and flowers grown for their foliage. Our plants are guaranteed to be genetically identical to that original discovery, not cheap second-rate seedling plants. This tough and reliable plant, which can be grown even where Berberis is restricted, has won the prestigious Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in Great Britain, so we know how good it is, and so do our customers. These plants are selling fast, so order now, while our stock remains available.

Invasive Plant Info

Tier 2 Invasive Sign

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.

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Fireball Japanese Barberry

Berberis thunbergii 'Fireball' (PP #21,100)

2 Reviews