The Q&A Archives: DwarfJapanese Barberry

Question: I purchased a Dwarf Japanese Barberry this Spring and planted it in a pot for colour on my balcony. I struggled with it for two months...whereupon I took it back to the shop where I purchased it and was encouraged to feed it a solution of Nitrogen every two weeks. It has improved some, but it is very slow to grow and is and the leaves are green not yellow. What am I doing wrong. Also, will it survive the winter in the pot? Thank you for your interest.

Answer: It sounds as though your barberry is struggling - there are a few problems associated with growing plants in containers. The most common is water; either too much or two little. Plants in containers need to be watered more frequently than the same plants in the ground because the roots are restricted and cannot venture out and find moisture. It's important to water thoroughly when you do water and water only after the top inch or two of potting soil dries out. To eliminate air pockets that may form in the root mass, it helps to immerse the container in a larger container of water. Allow it to remain for 15-30 minutes to drive out any air pockets. Do this every 2-3 weeks during the summer months and you'll be sure the roots remain adequately hydrated. The second most common problem with plants in containers is that their roots can become over-heated if the container is situated in a full sun exposure. You can help protect the plants by grouping several together to shade one another, or by placing a bench, stones, or other objects on the sunny side to keep the container shaded.

Barberry is relatively cold hardy, but because the roots will remain above ground during the winter months, they will be susceptible to freezing. You can wrap the container with insulating material to keep this from happening to your barberry. Or, you can sink the pot into the ground for the winter months.

Hope this information is helpful!

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