Easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. Best flowering and fruiting is in full sun. Stems can become leggy in too much shade. Some tolerance for drought. Flowers bloom on new wood. Prune as needed in early spring. Most gardeners prefer to prune stems back to 6” in late winter to early spring each year. Such hard pruning tends to promote shrub compactness and good flowering. In harsh USDA Zone 5 winters, stems may die back to the ground in winter with new growth emerging from the roots in spring. Best cross-pollination and resultant fruit production occur when shrubs are planted in groups or massed.
This species of beautyberry is a rounded, deciduous shrub that typically grows to 4-5’ tall and to 6-8’ wide with slender, upright-arching branches whose tips may dip to the ground. Its best ornamental feature is its showy fall display of purple fruit. ‘Early Amethyst’ typically grows to 3-4’ tall and 4-5’ wide. Clusters (cymes) of small, lavender-pink flowers bloom in the leaf axils along the stems in summer. Flowers are followed by large clusters of bright, glossy, amethyst-purple fruits (each 1/8” diameter) which ripen in late summer and put on their best show through October. Fruits ripen earlier on this cultivar that with species plants, hence the cultivar name. Fruits persist beyond the point of leaf drop but not very far into winter. Fruits are attractive to birds. Elliptic to ovate-elliptic, medium green leaves (to 3” long) with acuminate tips are borne along the stems in a single plane.
No serious insect or disease problems. Some susceptibility to leaf spot, stem diseases and black mold. May suffer significant stem dieback or die to the ground in harsh winters.
Group or mass. Borders, bird gardens. Underplanting for open woodland areas. For an interesting fall berry display, plant in combination with other fall berry-producing shrubs such as Ilex verticillata (red berries) and Pyracantha (orange berries).