The Right Place
Most types of Japanese barberry thrive in either full sun or partial shade and are valued for their adaptability. Full sun brings out rich purple-red and variegated leaf colors best. Although barberries grow happily in poor soils, they welcome fertile, well-drained soil that is moderately acidic to neutral (pH 6.0 to 7.5). They do not handle soggy soil well at all.
Planting Nursery Stock
Plant young barberries from a nursery that are bare root in the fall. If they are in containers, plant them anytime the ground is not frozen. They should be 18 to 30 inches tall, unless they are dwarf types. Keep the soil and roots moist until transplant time. Wear tough gloves since these plants have thorns. Barberries are slow to establish themselves after transplanting, so prepare soil in the planting area by digging in some organic material such as peat humus, peat moss, or compost to ensure survival the first year. The water-holding capacity of the organic material protects the young shrub from drying out during its first year in its new location. Plant barberries singly, or space them 2-1/2 to 3 feet apart for hedges or groupings.
Remove the shrub from the container and loosen any roots that may be encircling the root ball due to long confinement in the pot. Dig a saucer-shaped hole that is wide enough to accommodate the root system and exactly as deep as the Japanese barberry was in its container. Do not add any loose soil in the bottom of the hole. Set the shrub in the hole, making sure the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Fill the hole with soil, pressing it gently and firmly over the roots to eliminate air pockets and water generously. Spread a layer of organic material over the newly planted roots as mulch to help the soil retain moisture. If there is no rainwater regularly until the shrub is established.
Amendments In Planting or Transplanting
There are a number of products at the garden center that will help your newly planted or transplanted plants deal better with the stress inherent in the planting process. All healthy plants have beneficial fungi, called mycorrhizal fungi, living on their roots. You can buy these valuable additions to your plant’s ecosystem. See the file describing Using Micorrhizae When Planting.
In addition, there are a number of products such as seaweed, compost tea, and beneficial soil microbes that when added to the planting process will help your newly established plants get going faster. See the file New Technology In Plant Growth Activators