I have a 3-year-old American Beauty bush that is doing well, but will not bloom. What is wrong?
The Gardener’s Answer
Hello, Kathy: American Beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana) is a nice understory shrub. It has an open growth habit with purple berries adding wonderful fall interest to the garden. There are a few reasons why your shrub may not be flowering/fruiting. This shrub requires full sun to light shade in order to bloom. If your plant is not receiving adequate sunlight this can cause it not to bloom. Ideally this native should get a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight. Callicarpa blooms on new growth, meaning it will not produce flowers on previous years’ growth. If you have not pruned your shrub I would suspect this is why you have not seen any flowers or fruit. Beautyberry should be pruned annually while it is dormant during the late winter or early spring. It is quite forgiving so later this winter go ahead and cut it back to around a foot. To promote healthy growth prune out one-quarter to one-third of the oldest stems each year. This will rejuvenate your shrub, and as long as it is getting enough sunlight it should bloom for you next summer and you will be able to enjoy the fruit next fall. It sounds like your shrub is healthy and Beautyberry does not have many insect or disease problems, so I would suspect that your shrub may need to be pruned or possibly moved to a sunnier location.