Several landscape shrubs common to Louisiana provide colorful displays of berries during the winter. Besides aesthetics, berry-producing plants are an ideal source for decorations during the holiday season.
In Louisiana, berry production typically begins in early fall with formation occurring in late fall through winter, and berries on some species persist even through the spring.
Hollies, nandina, pyracantha, beauty-berry and mahonia are examples of plants that produce berries, this time of year and all do quite well under Louisiana’s growing conditions. Hollies, nandina and pyracantha are especially popular as berry sources for holiday arrangements.
There are numerous holly species in Louisiana and all produce red berries throughout the fall and winter. When growing holly species in the landscape, it is important to remember that male and female plants need to be planted close together for adequate berry supplies to be produced as the berries are produced on the female plants. American hollies, deciduous hollies, Chinese holly and yaupons are excellent performers in Louisiana. Unlike most hollies, the Chinese hollies have some self-pollinating varieties.
Pyracantha, or firethorn bush, produces berries almost in sequence with nandina. Berry colors range from orange to red or yellow.
Nandina, also called heavenly bamboo, is one of the most widely recognized berry-producing plants grown in Louisiana. Red berries ripen in fall and persist through the winter. New nandina varieties producing yellow berries are also now available.
Beauty-berry, a native shrub, usually produces purple berries, although other colors are available on some of the newer named varieties and introduced species. The berries of Beauty-berry plants appear in early fall and last through December.
Mahonias produce blue berries and are common to many old landscape settings.
There is also a variety of shrubs that produce colorful berries for coloring the holiday season and, best of all, can be grown directly in the home landscape.