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Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea Red Chief

Japanese barberry

Dramatic foliage colour

A loose structured shrub with upright arching stems up to 1.2m (4ft) tall and small, shiny wine red leaves, brighter and more vibrant in spring. The colour is best in an open sunny position where it will colour brilliantly to flame red in autumn. Small scarlet fruits remain on the stems when the leaves fall. Masses of creamy-yellow, flowers appear in late spring.


Plant in beds and borders with other shrubs, roses and perennials. Good with grey leaved plants.


Any reasonable soil, good on clay and chalk. May be pruned in spring to control size or stimulate new pink shoots.

Can be trimmed to make a colourful and almost impenetrable hedge

Plant details

In depth plant information

Property Value
Plant type Ornamental shrub
Flower colour
Foliage colour
Typically available March - September
Season of interest Autumn, Spring
Flowering April - April
Evergreen No
Plant height 200 cm - 300 cm
Plant width 150 cm - 250 cm
Fragrant flowers No
Hazardous All parts highly toxic if eaten
Attracts bees Yes
Attracts butterflies Yes
Plant height in 5 years 300 cm
Medicinal No
Hardiness zone (?) H7

Will perform best in these conditions

Property Value
Soil type Chalk, Clay, Sand, Loam
Light exposure Full sun, Part shade
Soil drainage Well drained, Moist
Planting instructions

Water the plant in its pot thoroughly before planting – give it a good soaking. Prepare the area by digging a hole twice the size of the pot. Dig compost into the base of the hole. Remove the pot and position the plant in the hole, with the top of the rootball about level with the surrounding soil. Refill the planting hole with a mixture of garden soil and compost, firming as you go. Water in well and keep well watered during the plant's first year.

Planting site Cottage garden, Informal garden, Flower border and beds, City garden

Typically available

From March to September