Golden Torch BarberryBerberis thunbergii ‘Faisceau doré’
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Berberis thunbergii ‘Faisceau doré’
Outdoor Growing zone
The Golden Torch Barberry is a unique and striking plant, with a narrow vertical form to 4 feet tall, yet barely 2 feet wide. Most of the time it is a glowing pure gold, with new spring growth in a striking soft orange. In fall it turns lovely shades of pale oranges and peachy tones. Perfect for accents in any shrub bed, making barriers and lower hedges, and for planting among rocks in hot and dry parts of your garden. Also great in planter boxes, leaving room for annual flowers and trailing plants around it.
Full sun really brings out the colors in the Golden Torch Barberry, which will turn more chartreuse when planted in shade. Any well-drained soil is perfect, and that includes urban soils, poor ground, gravels and sands, and other dry places, as well as ordinary garden soil. Drought resistant when established, and grows well in colder zones. Normally pest and disease-free, it isn’t bothered by deer or rabbits either.
Barberry is one of our most useful shrubs when it comes to adding long-term color to your beds. Tough, cold-resistant, drought-resistant and reliable, these bushes come in a wide range of shapes and leaf colors, often with different colors through the year. Gold and yellow are always valuable garden colors for adding contrast and brightness. So when you need a medium-sized stroke of gold in your beds, it’s time to plant a golden torch – the Golden Torch Barberry, that is. Upright and slender, reaching about 4 feet tall but barely 2 feet wide, it’s perfect when you need some height in a limited space. The spring leaves are a vibrant, glowing orange that turns to molten gold as it matures. Stable and durable all through summer, that gold melts away in fall as a unique and striking orange-gold. It is dense and bushy from top to bottom and of course would make a great hedge or short screen, with almost no need to trim. It is amazing the harsh conditions of summer heat and drought are brushed aside by barberry bushes, and this one is no exception. So if you want the Midas Touch in your garden, shine a golden torch into your beds.
The Golden Torch Barberry is a dense, upright deciduous shrub of moderate growth, with vertical branches that forms a slender plant 3 to 4 feet tall and no more than 2 feet wide, even if never trimmed. The light-brown stems have short but sharp prickles on them, making it an excellent deterrent to both two and four-legged intruders. Planting Barberry beneath windows is an excellent deterrent to break-ins. In spring new leaves grow, both along new stems and in clusters on old stems, so it is always dense and leafy. The leaves are more-or-less round in shape, and they are glossy and smooth. They vary in size but will rarely be more than one-inch long, and usually smaller. They are dense and numerous, so this plant has a terrific bushy look to it. New spring leaves are bright orange, really brightening your garden when in its fresh, clean, spring mode. They soon mature to a pure and perfect golden yellow, and this color persists throughout the summer. The young stems remain dark orange, making a nice contrast. When cooler fall weather arrives the leaves then turn fascinating shades of light orange that we have almost never seen in barberry – very cool.
Think of the Golden Torch Barberry as a brush dripping with yellow paint. Stripe it into your garden picture and hey presto! – brightness and color wherever you need it most. Plant it singly in smaller beds, in clusters of 3, 5, or more, or in mass planting in larger beds. With its slender, upright form it is also ideal for screening up to 4 feet tall, such as planting below windows, or for making a hedge that needs very little trimming. Space plants 12” to 18” apart for this – it will grow into a solid, continuous hedge. Grow it in hot, dry places to brighten them, and plant it on slopes and banks, or among rocks and gravel. Everywhere you put it, this plant is going to look great.
The Golden Torch Barberry is very cold-resistant, and it survives winters in zone 3 without any winter-kill. It grows too in all warmer zones, only finding the heat and humidity of zone 9 in the southeast too much.
For the best leaf colors, grow the Golden Torch Barberry in full sun. It will grow fine in partial shade too, but the summer colors will be more chartreuse, and the fall colors not as strong. It grows well even in poor soil, and in any kind of soil, from sand to clay, as long as it is well-drained. Avoid wet places, especially ones wet in winter, and once your plant is well-established it will take long periods of dryness without any problems.
Very little attention is needed to grow the Golden Torch Barberry successfully. Water weekly while it is new, but then it needs nothing more. A little shrub fertilizer in spring will work wonders in poor soil, and some compost as mulch is always welcome, but not essential. You can trim as needed for very tight geometry, or just let it grow naturally – it will still be neat and upright. Trim anytime except fall, as new growth could be damaged by cold. Pests or diseases are very rare, and both deer and rabbits leave it alone.
Japanese barberry, Berberis thunbergii, is a shrub that grows naturally in Japan and China. It was introduced into America in 1875 by the Arnold Arboretum, Boston, but it had arrived as seeds in France earlier, around 1860. It was in France too that the first colored-leaf forms arose, and it is to France again that we need to go to find the origin of the Golden Torch Barberry. Jean-Pierre Hennebelle has a nursery in Boubers-sur-Canche, in northern France. He is a keen plant breeder and he discovered, probably as a seedling, the variety he named ‘Faisceau doré’. That literally translates as “beam of golden light”, so when the McKay Nursery Company in Oshkosh, Wisconsin decided to introduce it to America they registered the trademark name Golden Torch® for it, in 2008. That registration was canceled in 2016, so now we can all simply use Golden Torch as a useful common name for this great plant.
We love the brilliance of this great new barberry, and we are sure it is going to be a big favorite. The different colors through the seasons make it always interesting, and the clear golden coloring is simply wonderful in summer. It will be a great addition to your garden, but we have a limited number of plants, so be sure to order right away, or we can’t guarantee to be able to send them, and that would be a pity.
The sale of Japanese Barberry varieties that produce seeds is banned in Maine, New York State, and Minnesota. Other states have placed restrictions. Although we attempt to stay up to date on each states’ Department of Agriculture regulations, rules can vary, and change rapidly. This link will show you the situation in your own state and remember that barberry is not a problem in many states. Check our site for non-seeding varieties of Barberry, as many are available. These are not restricted by most states, as they cannot spread.