Japanese barberry Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea 'Bagatelle'

👤 Non-toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Not blooming
🍪 Edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
Japanese barberry 'Bagatelle'


The plant commonly known as Japanese barberry 'Bagatelle' is a compact and decorative shrub, characterized by its striking foliage and thorny branches. The plant is noted for its leaves that exhibit a deep, reddish-purple hue which adds rich color to gardens throughout the growing season. The leaves are small, oval-shaped, and grow in an alternate pattern along the stems, providing a dense, layered texture. During the spring, the Japanese barberry 'Bagatelle' produces small, yellow flowers that dangle in clusters along the length of the stems, contrasting elegantly against the dark foliage. By autumn, these blossoms develop into small, bright red berries that are attractive to birds and add a splash of color to the fall landscape. Thorns are present along the branches, offering a distinct look but also requiring care when handling or pruning the shrub. These thorns contribute to the plant's defensive traits, deterring herbivores from browsing. Overall, the Japanese barberry 'Bagatelle' is appreciated for its year-round visual interest, created by its colorful leaves, flowers, and berries, which stand out in a variety of landscaping themes.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Japanese Barberry, Red Barberry, Purple-leaf Japanese Barberry, Dwarf Purple Barberry, Bagatelle Barberry

    • Common names

      Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea 'Bagatelle'.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      2 feet (0.6 meters)

    • Spread

      2 feet (0.6 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Compact Growth: Ideal for small gardens or limited spaces due to its dwarf habit.
    • Ornamental Appeal: Offers attractive deep purple foliage that adds color contrast in the landscape.
    • Low Maintenance: Requires minimal care once established, suitable for novice gardeners.
    • Seasonal Interest: Provides year-round visual interest with foliage, yellow flowers in the spring, and red berries in the fall.
    • Drought Tolerant: Once established, it can withstand periods of drought, reducing the need for frequent watering.
    • Deer Resistance: Typically resistant to browsing by deer, making it suitable for gardens in areas with wildlife.
    • Erosion Control: Can be used on slopes and banks to help prevent soil erosion.
    • Hedge & Border Use: Ideal for creating low hedges or borders due to its dense, compact growth habit.
    • Winter Hardy: Capable of surviving in colder climates, providing landscape interest even in winter.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    • This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Photography: Japanese barberry 'Bagatelle' provides a dramatic, dark foliage background for plant photography, enhancing the contrast and highlighting the colors of other garden plants.
    • Hedging for Miniature Gardens: Its compact growth habit makes it ideal for creating low, formal hedges in fairy or miniature gardens.
    • Seasonal Decorations: Branches of Japanese barberry 'Bagatelle' can be snipped and used in fall or winter floral arrangements due to their rich, purple-red foliage and bright red berries.
    • Wildlife Shelter: Although non-native, the dense, thorny branches can provide a safe nesting space for small birds in the garden.
    • Culinary Garnish: While not commonly known, its berries can be used as a garnish for certain dishes, providing a splash of color (Note: berries can be toxic if ingested in large quantities).
    • Color Theory in Art: Art teachers might use the foliage as a real-life example to teach color theory, showcasing the plant’s complementary contrast between the purple leaves and yellow autumn foliage.
    • Dye Production: Historically, some species of barberry have been used to produce a yellow dye, with potential for use in natural fabric dyeing.
    • Bonsai: More adventurous gardeners might use this dwarf variety to create bonsai projects due to its manageable size and visually appealing foliage.
    • Tactile Experience: Planting Japanese barberry 'Bagatelle' along a sensory garden path provides a different texture for visually impaired visitors to experience.
    • Landscape Art: The plant can be used in landscape art to provide a contrast in textures or colors, especially because it holds its leaf color well throughout the seasons.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Japanese Barberry is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Japanese Barberry is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Protection: Berberis thunbergii, commonly known as Japanese barberry, is often associated with protection due to its thorny branches, which can create an impenetrable barrier against intruders or negative forces.
    • Adaptability: With the ability to thrive in various soil types and climates, Japanese barberry symbolizes adaptability and resilience in different life circumstances.
    • Bitterness: The berries of the Japanese barberry are tart, which can symbolize bitterness or sour experiences in life.
    • Purity: In some cultures, the bright red color of the berries is associated with purity and cleansing.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Early spring
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The Japanese Barberry 'Bagatelle' should be watered deeply once a week, ensuring the soil is moist but not waterlogged. During the growing season and in the absence of rainfall, increase watering frequency to twice a week. For each watering session, provide about 1 gallon of water for each plant to ensure the root zone is adequately saturated. During the winter months or cool seasons, reduce watering as the plant's water requirements decrease. Always check the soil moisture before watering to avoid overwatering, and during hot, dry spells, additional water may be necessary.

  • sunLight

    The Japanese Barberry 'Bagatelle' performs best in full sun to partial shade. For optimal growth and foliage color, situate the plant in a spot that receives at least 4 to 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. Locations that offer morning sun with afternoon shade are ideal to protect the leaves from potential scorching in regions with intense midday sun.

  • thermometerTemperature

    The Japanese Barberry 'Bagatelle' thrives in a range of temperature conditions but is best suited to environments where the temperature seldom drops below -30 degrees Fahrenheit (-34 degrees Celsius). The ideal growing temperature for this plant is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It can survive up to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit without significant stress, provided it is sufficiently watered.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune Japanese Barberry 'Bagatelle' to shape it, remove any dead or diseased branches, and promote bushier growth. The best time to prune is late winter to early spring before new growth starts. Thinning the interior branches every few years will help to maintain the plant's health by increasing air circulation. Light pruning can be done throughout the growing season to keep the plant tidy.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    For Japanese Barberry 'Bagatelle', the best soil mix is well-drained with some organic matter. A mix of loam, peat moss, and sharp sand can provide the right structure. The pH should be slightly acidic to neutral, ranging between 5.5 and 7.5 for optimal growth.

  • plantRepotting

    Japanese Barberry 'Bagatelle' does not require frequent repotting. It should be repotted every 2 to 3 years to refresh the soil and accommodate the growth of the plant.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Japanese Barberry 'Bagatelle' is tolerant of a wide range of humidity levels and does not have specific humidity requirements. Outdoor average ambient humidity is generally suitable for this plant.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Provide bright light, avoid overwatering, and ensure good air flow.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in full sun to partial shade and well-draining soil.

    • Hardiness zone

      4-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    Japanese Barberry 'Bagatelle' starts its life as a seed, often spread by birds that eat the berries and disperse the seeds. Upon germinating, the seedling emerges and begins to develop its distinctive purplish-red leaves if conditions are optimal, with full sunlight to partial shade and well-draining soil. As it reaches juvenile stage, the plant grows into a compact, mound-shaped shrub with spiny branches, and by maturity, it can reach 1 to 2 feet in height and width. Throughout spring, it produces small, inconspicuous yellow flowers, which then develop into bright red berries by late summer or fall, attracting wildlife and facilitating seed dispersal. The shrub has a perennial life cycle and will enter dormancy during the winter months, losing its leaves and waiting for spring to resume growth. Over time, the 'Bagatelle' may spread slowly to form dense thickets if not pruned or controlled.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Early spring

    • The popular method of propagation for Japanese barberry 'Bagatelle' is through softwood cuttings. This process usually takes place in late spring to early summer. Collect cuttings that are about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) in length from new growth that is just beginning to harden but is still flexible. Remove the lower leaves and dip the cut end in a rooting hormone to enhance root development. Plant the cuttings in a mixture of peat and perlite or a well-draining potting soil, keeping the humidity high and the soil consistently moist. With proper care, roots should develop in a few weeks, after which the new plants can gradually acclimate to less controlled conditions.