There are many reasons why barberries are one of the most popular deciduous shrubs—they are deer resistant, they do well in full, hot sun, and have thorns that keep animals and foot traffic away. They are dense, respond well to pruning, and are hardy. Barberries are dwarf shrubs that are perfect for small planting spaces.

I think the biggest reason they are so popular is their beautiful, brilliant leaf shades of red, burgundy, orange and gold that provide color contrast with shrubs and trees planted nearby. Their leaves turn more brilliant reds, oranges and yellows in the fall. This fall interest is enhanced by the bright red fruit called drupes staying on the plant even after leaves have fallen. Colorful barberry make great companions with spreading junipers, Russian sage, and ornamental grasses such as blue oat grass and blue fescue.

The following hardy (USDA Zone 4) barberry are of the genus and species Berberis thunbergii. They are all dwarf shrubs, but some are smaller than others. New varieties have been bred lately that are narrow, upright growers—4 feet tall and less than 2 feet in width.



Leaf Color

Fall Leaves

Height and Width

Crimson Pygmy

Dark red


2′ x 2′

Crimson Ruby



2′ x 2′

Emerald Carousel


Deep red

2′ x 2′

Golden Ruby

Red w/gold margins


2′ x 2′

Orange Rocket


Dark red

4′ x 18″

Rose Glow

Mottled red-rose


3′ x 3′