Tag Archives: japanese

Royal Burgundy Barberry (berberis thunbergii)

I started this bonsai blog and have done a bunch of post about bonsai. And strange enough I have yet to do a post about any of my bonsai or bonsai to be. Most was due to the fact that I started this blog in dead of winter and nothing was happening with my bonsai except them sleeping. But now its extremely close to spring and things are slowly starting to happen so as time goes on I will start to share my trees and whatever else happens around me involving bonsai.

So without further a-due……… I give you my first “bonsai in progress” with my Barberry!

I read somewhere that back in the old old days it was rare to find a barberry bonsai especially in Japan because they are thorny little guys and considered bad luck. Well times have changed and the old superstition has mostly parted. 

I got this barberry at a local nursery right at the end of the season this past fall. It was sitting in the discount lot looking lonely and I believe I paid $6.00 for it. WHAT A STEAL! I was intrigued by the way it was shaped and the trunk and bark look really gnarled and old. Below I will show you some progression photos and explanations of each.



Here is the barberry straight from the nursery. Looks like the bush they are known to be. 1 gallon nursery pot filled with standard dirt and fallen leaves. Nothing special.


I cut away some dead branches to get a better view of the gnarled looking trunk and bark that I liked. 


For those that don’t know barberry…… the whole plant is covered in these thorns. They literally make working on them a pain! Some people will remove the thorns but I think that takes away from the tree. I just deal with the occasionally stabbing or two. LOL.


Getting a bunch of the over grown root suckers out of the way and cutting back a bunch of overgrown crap.


Now its time to tackle the mass of roots. It had some very large roots that called from me to get out a bigger saw. There was one twisted long root the same thickness of the trunk that had to go! Also take note to the alien looking green/yellow color of the sap wood. It is extremely bright! Even the roots are the same weird color.


In its training pot. Since I did so much cutting off the top and so much root work I decided to leave it a little longer than I want. Later this summer I will cut it back even further.


I keep it indoors since the pruning because it is still technically winter with spring a week out. Its been getting warmer but the nights are still pretty cold and I want to protect the fresh cuts and the cut roots. Within 1.5 weeks it’s already showing plush new growth which tells me it survived the major pruning and is healthy.


Here is a close up of the fresh green turning burgundy leaves and getting ready to flower! 

Thanks for reading!