The Q&A Archives: Crimson Pygmy Barberry

Question: We have many Crimson Pygmy Barberry shrubs. (Zone 9 in CA) All were planted 4 years ago and have been doing very well. I just noticed that the leaves on one shrub has totally shriveled up and changed to a pink color, somewhat like in the fall. No leaves have fallen off. It is not just a few branches, but the entire shrub. I checked the moisture and it's okay. I also broke a small branch and the twig is still green inside. The other Barberries are right next to this one and they are all doing great. There is no evidence of any types of insects. I have seen this occasionally on our shrubs but in very small areas. I just pruned them in the past. Any help would be appreciated. What could have caused this? I don't know if I should remove this shrub? Will it survive? What should I do? Thanks.

Answer: Quite often the new growth on barberry shrubs starts out pink and then turns a deeper, crimson-like color as the season progresses. Could the leaves on that one shrub be brand new? If so, it indicates some kind of stress which made all the older leaves fall off. Perhaps poorly draining soil? Maybe too much or too little water? A late frost? It's hard to guess what the problem might be. As long as the stems and branches are alive, the plant is probably healthy, and capable of recovering from whatever made it act so strange. I'd give it the rest of the season to straighten up and grow right. If it continues to look bad, or if it gets worse, maybe the only answer is to dig it up and replace it with a healthy specimen. Good luck with your shrub!

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