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‘Issai’ Beautyberry

Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Issai'

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

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The ‘Issai’ Beautyberry gives you an early crop of stunning violet-purple berries before other beautyberry bushes are ripe. It carries a heavy crop that arches the branches over in a graceful cascade, and it begins to flower profusely at an early age. The berries ripen in September and look at their brightest in October, after the leaves have fallen. They are valuable winter food for cardinals and other songbirds. This is a broad, low bush, 3 to 4 feet tall and about 5 feet wide. Grow it on terraces and slopes, in woodland areas, and among other shrubs in your garden beds. It’s easy to grow, unique and incredibly beautiful.

  • Heavy crops of violet-purple berries in fall
  • Ripens its crop earlier than other varieties
  • Begins flowering well even when young
  • Songbirds love to eat the berries in winter
  • Tolerates cold climates, and blooms even if winter-damaged

Plant the ‘Issai’ Beautyberry in full sun or partial shade, in any well-drained soil. Although moist, richer soils are preferred, it also grows well in urban soil and poor soil generally, including alkaline soil. It doesn’t suffer from pests or diseases, and an annual pruning is all it takes. Trim back growth from the previous year to stimulate lots of new stems. Plants damaged in winter still bloom well, and set lots of berries.

Plant Hardiness Zones 5-9
Mature Width 4-5
Mature Height 3-4
Soil Conditions Moist, Well-Drained Soil
Sunlight Full Sun to Partial Shade
Drought Tolerance Moderate Drought Tolerance
Zones 5-9

The best gardens go beyond the everyday in their plants, and if you want to create unique, beautiful and fascinating landscapes, something different and special is needed. You certainly get that – on an easy-care plant – when you grow the ‘Issai’ Beautyberry. This group of plants is sadly under-used, so let’s change that, starting with one of the easiest to grow, noted for how quickly it matures, and how profusely it produces the amazing violet berries that make beautyberries so unique. We have an American one, but sadly it won’t grow in cooler areas. The ‘Issai’ Beautyberry will, though, even in zone 5. Any winter damage doesn’t matter, because this plant blooms and makes berries on new stems that grow out each spring. It forms a striking mound of hanging stems, creating a soft, mounding and cascading look, and those berries really are unique and frankly amazing. For a great fall highlight, look no further.

Growing the ‘Issai’ Beautyberry

Size and Appearance

The ‘Issai’ Beautyberry is a deciduous shrub that grows into a broad mound of branches, about 3 or 4 feet tall and spreading to perhaps 5 feet wide. Each year it produces an abundance of long leafy stems, and these arch outwards and down, especially by fall when the weight of the berries pulls them down. This creates a fascinating semi-cascading profile to the plant. The leaves are in pairs along the stems, each one 3 or 4 inches long, smooth, oval and tapering to an elegant point. The leaves are mid-green, turning light yellow in fall.

This variety is known for how soon it begins to bloom, so within a season or two you will see clusters of pale-pink flowers opening all along the stems, at the base of every leaf. These are inconspicuous, but soon they turn into slightly pendulous clusters of green berries, about ⅛ of an inch across. These are abundant, weighing down the branches, and by September – much earlier than other beautyberry bushes – they will turn an amazing rich shade of violet-purple. They become even more showy once the leaves fall, and throughout October the display is simply stunning – fountains of cascading purple. The bare branches, laden with berries, are also terrific in a vase, alone or as part of a flower arrangement.

Using the ‘Issai’ Beautyberry in Your Garden

To get the best out of your garden, extending interest into the fall is important, and the ‘Issai’ Beautyberry is perfect for that. It looks great with all other plants with berries, making wonderful color-contrasts with firethorn’s (Pyracantha) orange or yellow berries, and with the orange-reds of cotoneasters and winterberry (Ilex verticillata). Along with fall leaves, you can bring your garden to a stunning, vibrant seasonal climax. The ‘Issai’ Beautyberry is perfect for casual gardens, but it looks just as much at home in more structured settings. Plant it on terraces or slopes, to make the most of its cascading structure. For group plantings, which probably produce bigger berry crops than solitary plants, space plants about 3 feet apart. In warmer zones you can also grow this bush as a container plant, along with other flowering shrubs.

Hardiness

This beautyberry grows best in zones 6, 7 and 8. It will grow in cooler parts of zone 9 too, especially in the northwest. It can be grown in zone 5 too, in a sheltered place, especially where you have cooler summer growing conditions. Winter damage won’t reduce fruiting, as it blooms on new growth.

Sun Exposure and Soil Conditions

Full sun is perfect for the ‘Issai’ Beautyberry, if the soil is not too dry, and gives the biggest berry crops. But it will also grow well in partial shade, making it ideal in woodland settings. It grows best in moist, well-drained soils, but it does fine in poor soils too, and tolerates urban conditions just fine – perfect for a town garden. It grows in both lime and acid soils.

Maintenance and Pruning

You won’t see problems with pests or diseases when you grow the ‘Issai’ Beautyberry, but it will benefit from an annual pruning. Do this in spring, just before the new growth begins. Remove any dead branches first, and then trim back the branches from the year before, leaving a few inches at the base, with some buds. You can cut back almost to the ground for a smaller bush, or leave a taller framework of permanent branches for a larger one. That’s all it takes – and don’t trim the new branches at all in summer.

History and Origin of the ‘Issai’ Beautyberry

Beautyberries, Callicarpa, are another of the many groups of plants that grow in both North America and China. They are all shrubs, growing all through East Asia, with one species here in America. Callicarpa dichotoma is a low shrub that can be found growing wild in forests on the mountains of China and Japan. The variety called ‘Issai’ is distinguished by its profuse crops of berries, and for blooming while still young. Like the similar variety ‘Early Amethyst’ it ripens its berries sooner in fall than the wild plants do – allowing us to enjoy these lovely bushes for a longer time. ‘Issai’ was registered in the Netherlands in 2011, but we don’t know who developed it.

Buying the ‘Issai’ Beautyberry at the Tree Center

If you haven’t grown the beautyberry before – or even if you have – you don’t want to wait a long time to enjoy your first profuse violet harvest. That’s why you should choose the ‘Issai’ Beautyberry, for its quick and heavy crop. It’s always a popular variety, so order now, while our limited supply is still available.

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‘Issai’ Beautyberry

Callicarpa dichotoma ‘Issai'