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Nandina, cotoneaster favorites for red berries

Q: You were going to suggest more plants that wear red-colored berries? Appreciate it! – H.I., Albuquerque

A: One of my favorite berry-bearing plants would be nandina, commonly called heavenly bamboo. Don’t worry though, this isn’t a pushy water hogging bamboo at all; they are actually in the barberry family.

The nandina is a most colorful plant. The twigs and stems usually wear an amber-copper color all season long. The leaves remind me of short lance leaf willow leaves that are pinky—green as youngsters and then change to a light green edged with red as they age. They change color in the autumn months, too, giving lots of visual interest.

In late spring-early summer the nandina puts out clusters on pinkish-white flowers that, as the season advances, grow into cheery red berry clusters that hang on this mostly evergreen plant well through the dormant season. Best of all, they thrive in these parts.

My next suggestion is cotoneaster. There are several different varieties of cotoneaster that do grow red berries. Some are evergreen, wearing the most beautiful dark-green foliage and some offer a cool gray-green color. Some cotoneasters are deciduous but all of them grow a berry of some sorts.

You’ll find some that are very formal and rigid in looks and others that are more arching and graceful in their growing habits. When you go hunting for cotoneasters, I’m confident you could find at least one variety that would work in your plans giving you the colorful red berries you’re looking for.

Those are my suggestions for this week, with more shrub choices to come as the season progresses.

Oh, there is a tree that would offer you red berries that grows pretty darn well here if you have the space or need for a berry wearing tree, too. The Washington hawthorn is in the rose family so you get lovely bloom clusters in the spring that age into berry clusters, which hang on the tree well into the winter months.

These trees offer lots of seasonal color. Search out a hawthorn and see if it might work in your scheme of things.

Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send questions to Digging In, Rio West, P.O. Drawer J, Albuquerque, NM 87103.

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