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Berberis thunbergii 'Atropurpurea'

Red-Leaf Japanese Barberry
  • Plant Type:
  • Shrub
  • Evergreen-Deciduous:
  • Deciduous
  • Overall Mature Size:
  • Medium
  • Also Grown As:
  • Bush
  • Mature Height & Spread :
  • 4-6' x 4-6'
  • Natural Growth Habit:
  • Rounded
  • Native To:
  • Japan
  • Exposure:
  • Full Sun, Partial Shade
  • Water:
  • Medium Water
  • Flower Color:
  • Insignificant
  • Bloom Time:
  • Spring
  • Special Features:
  • Attracts Birds/Butterflies, Cold Hardy, Deer Resistant, Desert Conditions, Fall Color, Hedge, Intermountain Conditions
  • Container Sizes:
  • #1, #5
  • Sunset Garden Zones:
  • 2b-24


Berberis thunbergii ‘Atropurpurea’ is a quick-growing shrub with attractive purple-red foliage.  Japanese Barberry (as it is called commonly) is adaptable to the urban environment, as it can handle a fair amount of pollution and the occasional spell of drought.  Berberis needs reasonable drainage though; standing water or excessively wet soil will cause it to suffer.  Full sun produces the best leaf color, but ‘Atropurpurea’ can take light shade as well.  To maintain shape and prevent invasiveness, prune the dormant branches of Berberis before the new buds open, but do take care to avoid the substantial thorns.  Plant Berberis ‘Atropurpurea’ as an accent in the middle or background of a bed, where the color allows foreground plants to really pop.  Planted in a row, they make and effective barrier hedge.