Red Japanese Barberry Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea 'Pink Queen' (v)

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Not blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
Japanese barberry 'Pink Queen'


The Pink Queen is a striking ornamental shrub with multi-seasonal interest. Its foliage is the most notable feature, displaying a mixture of pink, red, and purple leaves that provide a vibrant splash of color in the landscape. The leaves themselves are small to medium in size, and they appear on branches that arrange themselves in a dense, mounding habit. In the spring, the Pink Queen bursts into a display of fine-textured yellow flowers, adding to its decorative appeal. As the seasons change, the foliage may transition through different shades, with the fall bringing out a particularly intense and fiery display of reddish-purple hues. The Pink Queen also bears small, bright red berries which can last well into the winter months, offering a contrast against the sometimes barren winter landscape. The fruit is not only attractive but can also attract birds and other wildlife to the garden. The branches of this plant grow in a somewhat arching fashion, giving it a graceful appearance, while the thorns that are characteristic of these shrubs add an element of rugged beauty—as well as making it a good choice for planting as a defensive barrier. Overall, Pink Queen presents itself as a colorful and versatile shrub, adding lasting interest and a touch of elegance to gardens and landscapes.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Synonyms

      Pink Queen Japanese Barberry, Red-leaved Japanese Barberry

    • Common names

      Berberis thunbergii var. atropurpurea 'Pink Queen'

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Japanese Barberry is not known to be highly toxic to humans. However, ingesting parts of the plant, particularly the berries, may cause mild upset stomach or nausea in some individuals. There is no significant evidence to suggest severe poisoning or life-threatening consequences from ingesting this plant. Nonetheless, it's always best to avoid eating parts of ornamental plants because of the potential for unexpected reactions or the presence of pesticides.

    • To pets

      Japanese Barberry may cause mild gastrointestinal upset if ingested by pets, such as vomiting or diarrhea. However, it is not known to be highly toxic to pets. As with any non-food plant, consumption should be avoided and pets should be monitored for any signs of illness if they ingest parts of the plant, and a veterinarian should be consulted if any adverse reaction is observed.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      4 feet (1.22 meters)

    • Spread

      4 feet (1.22 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Attractive Foliage: The 'Pink Queen' variant of Berberis thunbergii, commonly known as Japanese barberry, features reddish-purple leaves that add striking color contrast to gardens and landscapes.
    • Seasonal Interest: This plant offers year-round visual interest with its pinkish leaves in spring, deepening hues in summer, berries in autumn, and resilient branches in winter.
    • Drought Tolerance: Japanese barberry is known for its ability to withstand dry conditions once established, making it suitable for drought-prone regions or low-water gardens.
    • Low Maintenance: Other than occasional pruning to shape or manage size, the 'Pink Queen' requires minimal care and is thus ideal for busy or novice gardeners.
    • Pest Resistance: The plant has natural resistance to many pests, reducing the need for chemical treatments and making it a more environmentally friendly landscaping choice.
    • Erosion Control: With its dense growth habit, the Japanese barberry can help stabilize soil and prevent erosion on slopes or in areas prone to soil degradation.
    • Wildlife Habitat: Provides food for birds with its berries, and its thorny branches offer shelter and protection for small wildlife.
    • Versatility: The shrub can be used in a variety of landscaping approaches including as a hedge, foundation planting, or as part of a mixed border.
    • Hardy Nature: Japanese barberry is known for its ability to thrive in a wide range of soil types and environmental conditions, making it a reliable choice for many gardeners.

  • 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

    • Pink Queen Barberry can be used in the art of bonsai, where the plant's distinctive foliage and naturally compact growth habit can be sculpted into miniature landscapes.
    • The thorny branches may be used as a natural animal deterrent, creating barriers to protect more vulnerable plants in gardens.
    • Its vibrant foliage offers a natural dyeing agent for fabrics and yarns, imparting subtle shades to the textile materials.
    • Crafted into wreaths and other decorative items, Pink Queen Barberry adds a touch of natural beauty and color to home decor in the fall.
    • This plant can be used in photography and film as a backdrop or feature plant due to its striking foliage, providing visual interest and texture.
    • The dried, long-lasting berries can be used in creating ornamental jewelry, like necklaces and earrings, after proper treatment.
    • Branches of Pink Queen Barberry may be used in floral arrangements, where their structure and color add dimension and contrast.
    • In landscape design, Pink Queen Barberry can function as a color accent in gravel gardens or Zen rock gardens, enhancing the aesthetic appeal.
    • During fall, the foliage of Pink Queen Barberry can be gathered and used to create natural, seasonal potpourri mixtures.
    • Due to its dense growth, it can be planted to assist with soil erosion control on slopes or areas prone to erosion.

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, commonly known as Barberry, is often associated with protection due to its thorny branches, which can act as a physical barrier against unwanted creatures and negative energies.
    • Purity: The 'Pink Queen' variety, with its delicate pinkish hues, can represent purity and innocence, as pink is often related to gentle and pure emotions.
    • Adaptability: Barberry's ability to thrive in various soil conditions and its resistance to pests can symbolize adaptability and resilience in the face of adversity.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring to summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The Japanese Barberry 'Pink Queen' prefers to be watered deeply and infrequently, allowing the top couple of inches of soil to dry out between watering sessions. This typically translates to about 1 inch of water per week, or roughly 0.5 gallons for a small to medium-sized shrub, depending on weather conditions and soil type. In hotter or drier climates, the frequency may increase, and during the winter or in periods of rainfall, supplemental watering may be reduced or eliminated. The key is to avoid overwatering and to ensure good drainage to prevent root rot.

  • sunLight

    The Japanese Barberry 'Pink Queen' thrives in full sun to partial shade. The best spot for the plant would be one where it receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, but it can also tolerate some light dappled shade, especially in hotter climates. Avoid fully shaded areas, as this can reduce the vibrancy of the foliage color.

  • thermometerTemperature

    The Japanese Barberry 'Pink Queen' is hardy and can tolerate a range of temperatures but performs best when the temperature is between 50°F and 80°F. It can survive minimum winter temperatures down to around -30°F and maximum summer temperatures of about 100°F. However, providing some shade during the hottest part of the day in very warm regions can help prevent stress on the plant.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune Japanese Barberry 'Pink Queen' to remove dead or damaged wood, improve shape, and stimulate new growth. Late winter to early spring, before new growth begins, is the best time for pruning. Annual or biennial thinning of old stems can also encourage more vibrant foliage and flowers. Be careful of the thorns when pruning and dispose of the prunings properly to avoid unwanted spreading.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    The Japanese Barberry 'Pink Queen' prefers well-draining, loamy soil that is rich in organic matter. A soil pH range of 6.0 to 7.5 is optimal for the health and growth of this plant. To create the best soil mix, combine garden soil, compost, and a small amount of sand or perlite to improve drainage.

  • plantRepotting

    Japanese Barberry 'Pink Queen' does not need frequent repotting. It can typically be repotted every 2 to 3 years to refresh the soil. For mature, landscape-planted specimens, repotting is generally not required as they are sufficiently established outdoors.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Japanese Barberry 'Pink Queen' is tolerant of a wide range of humidity levels and does not require specific humidity conditions, making it quite adaptable to average outdoor humidity levels.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Limited space; provide bright light, occasional pruning.

    • Outdoor

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

    • Hardiness zone

      4-8 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    The life of the 'Pink Queen' Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea 'Pink Queen') begins with seed germination, which usually occurs in the spring following the stratification process that helps to break seed dormancy. After germination, the seedling grows into a juvenile plant, establishing a root system and producing its first leaves, which are often a mix of green and purple. As it matures, the plant enters the vegetative growth stage, developing woody stems and branching out to form a dense, rounded shrub with distinctive pink-tinged purple foliage. The Japanese Barberry typically reaches reproductive maturity within a few years, after which it begins to produce small, yellow flowers in spring that are attractive to pollinators. Following pollination, the flowers develop into bright red berries, which are often eaten by birds, aiding in seed dispersal. Throughout its life cycle, the 'Pink Queen' Japanese Barberry can be a long-lived shrub if it is provided with ideal growing conditions that include full sun to part shade and well-drained soil.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring to summer

    • The Japanese Barberry 'Pink Queen' is commonly propagated through softwood cuttings. The ideal time for taking cuttings is in late spring or early summer when new growth is still tender. To propagate, cut a 4 to 6-inch (10 to 15 cm) section of softwood stem that includes several leaves, and remove the leaves from the lower half of the cutting. Dip the cut end into a rooting hormone to encourage root development, and then plant it into a well-draining potting mix. Keep the soil moist and provide indirect light until roots have established, which typically takes a few weeks to a month. Once rooted, the cuttings can be transplanted into individual pots or into the garden.