How Much Sun Does Yellow Barberry Need?

Barberry shrubs (Berberis thunbergii), also known as Japanese barberries, are exceptionally difficult, easy-to-grow, versatile plants which have many different uses in a house landscape. A high number of barberry cultivars can be found, several notable because of their brightly colored, golden-yellow foliage. These attractive shrubs have few requirements, but require a lot of sunlight the keep their bright colours.

Barberry Characteristics

The barberry bush gets its name from the ample thorns that cover its branches, making it a particularly good choice as part of a hurdle planting. Barberries are deciduous and generally have dense foliage. They’re usually one of the first shrubs to demonstrate new leaves in the spring. All barberries have inconspicuous flowers, followed by red berries in the autumn. Standard types of barberry trees have green leaves which change to red or orange in autumn. Yellow varieties have vibrant leaves which do particularly well in summer heat, which can scorch leaves on standard cultivars, and usually retain their yellow colour into autumn.


Foliage on yellowish barberry bushes keeps its bright shade best when the plant is grown at a place that receives sunlight for most of the day. Some light colour during the day will not interfere with the plant’s growth or health, but its bright and vibrant foliage is likely to turn into a greenish shade when sunlight is not constant. For compact cultivars, a website in the front of a sunlit tree boundary is best. Taller varieties can do well as specimens in full sun or at the back of a sunny bed, providing other plants nearer the front are spaced well apart and never likely to colour the barberry bushes.

Other Conditions

Yellow barberry shrubs grow well in any kind of soil, provided it is well-drained. They require only moderate levels of moisture and can tolerate dry spells quite well. Barberry bushes should be fertilized with a balanced, overall purpose formula early in spring, before new growth appears. They’re also quite tolerant of allergens, making them excellent choices in urban areas, and have no serious insect or disease issues. Pruning is best done in late spring or early summer, after the plant’s tiny flowers have disappeared.


A number of barberry varieties with yellow foliage are sold in garden centers or through gardening catalogs. They comprise “Sunjoy Gold Pillar” and “Aurea,” both achieving a height of 3 to 4 feet with vertical growth habits; “Bonanza Gold,” also known as “Bogozam,” a compact plant only 1 1/2 feet tall; and “Golden Nugget,” a dwarf plant which reaches a height of only 12 inches and is approximately 18 inches wide. All varieties do best in U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 4 through 8.

See related