European barberry - 10 seeds
European barberry - 10 seeds
Barberry, Latin name Berberis vulgaris, is native to Europe, where it is commonly used as an ornamental shrub. It is also commonly grown in North America. Its close relative, Berberis aquifolium, is a native of North America, and is also known as Oregon grape. Native Americans originally taught settlers its value as a medicinal herb. Two other species of the plant, Nepalese and Indian barberry, are native to those areas and possess similar qualities.
Barberry is a perennial herb that is usually around 8 ft (2.4 m) tall, but can grow up to 10 ft (3 m) high. It bears yellow flowers, red or black berries, and small rounded fleshy leaves. It flourishes in dry sandy soil, and prefers a sunny location. Research has established that the active alkaloids in barberry belong to the isoquinoline family
Sometimes called Japanese barberry, red barberry (Berberis thunbergii) is a deciduous species of ornamental shrub grown for its reddish autumn foliage. The shrubs grow best within U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 to 8, where they are frequently planted as defensive hedges for their thorny, densely packed branches. Red barberries grow best from cuttings, but they will also grow reliably well from fresh seeds. The seeds germinate in approximately one month if planted in moist, sterile medium. However, they must first be cold stratified to fulfill their dormancy requirement and prompt germination.
Gather red barberry seeds in late summer after the berries have ripened to a deep, purplish red color with no signs of green or yellow. Collect several berries and place them in a bucket.
Mash the red barberry berries against the bottom of the bucket gently with a rubber mallet to break up the flesh. Cover them with water, and soak them overnight, stirring occasionally. Discard the seeds and flesh that float to the surface.
Pour off the water, and collect the red barberry seeds that have sunken to the bottom of the bucket. Rinse the seeds thoroughly, and spread them out to dry for an hour on a sheet of paper.
Fill 3-inch peat pots with a mixture of half medium-grit sand and half coir or peat moss. Moisten the mixture. Sow two red barberry seeds in each pot at a depth of 1/2-inch. Water each pot to a 1-inch depth.
Wrap each peat pot in a sheet of plastic wrap. Poke two or three small holes in the plastic wrap. Place the pots inside a refrigerator for one to two months to cold stratify the seeds. Water whenever the sand feels mostly dry just beneath the surface.
Move the peat pots to a cold frame after the cold stratification period has ended. Remove the plastic wrap. Warm the peat pots with a germination mat set to 75 F during the day and 55 F at night.
Water the red barberry seeds whenever the sand and coir mixture dries out in the top 1/2-inch. Add water until it feels moderately moist but not sopping wet in the top inch. Avoid overwatering, as the seeds might rot.
Watch for germination 30 to 40 days after warming the pots. Remove the smaller of the two red barberry seedlings from each peat pot, if both seeds germinate successfully.
Grow the red barberry seedlings in the cold frame until spring. Move them to a lightly shaded area after all frost danger has passed and nighttime temperatures stay reliably above 50 F.
Transplant the red barberries into 6-inch containers filled with garden soil once they grow to 3 inches in height. Grow them in partial sun with weekly watering until autumn. Transplant them into a permanent bed after the first rain.