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Nevin's barberry grows into a medium to large size evergreen shrub growing 8-12 ft. tall and as wide. Distinctive pale blue-green foliage is comprised of prickly leaves that are divided into 3-5 leaflets and have sharp spines on the margins. Colorful clusters of showy clear yellow flowers occur in spring; colorful fruit is yellow to red and of value to wildlife.

This tough California native species is quite rare in natural distribution, occurring in only a few locations in Southern California. It is naturally adapted to well-drained sandy soils, full sun and extended periods of drought. In Inland Empire gardens and landscape plantings it needs room to grow and is mostly used in California native gardens as a large background and screen plant, and for attracting wildlife to its flowers and berries. It is a slow growing plant that takes many years to reach mature sizes.

Water Needs

Young Nevin's barberry plants do best with moderate amounts of moisture throughout the year; mature plants grow well with periodic deep irrigation in the summer. The chart shown below provides a recommended baseline guide to the monthly irrigation schedule and volume of supplemental water needed to maintain healthy growth throughout the average year. It should be noted there are several months indicated by an asterisk (*) when winter rains can provide sufficient moisture and irrigation is not needed. The high and low range of moisture indicates it can grow with varying amounts of water depending upon the garden exposure and age of the plant.

Irrigation Schedule and Graph

Moderate Water Use Plants

Irrigation Schedule 3

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
Runs per Month 0x to 3x 0x to 3x 0x to 3x 2x to 3x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 1x to 2x 2x to 3x 0x to 3x 0x to 3x
Inches per Run 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1" 1"
Inches per Month 0" to 3" 0" to 3" 0" to 3" 2" to 3" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 1" to 2" 2" to 3" 0" to 3" 0" to 3"

Range of supplemental summer water: 9"-16"
Range of supplemental winter water: 0"-15"

  Jan* Feb* Mar* Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov* Dec*
For more information on how to use this Irrigation Schedule and Graph, follow this link.

For information how to calculate your irrigation system’s schedule and precipitation rate, please follow this link.

Plant Properties

Plant Type: Shrub, Native
Foliage Character: Evergreen
Habit: Upright, Spreading, Mounding, Dense
Growth Rate: Moderate
Height: 8 ft. - 12 ft.
Width: 8 ft. - 12 ft.
Water Needs: Moderate 3
Foliage Color: Pale green, Blue green
Flower Color: Yellow
Flower Season: Spring
Soil Adaptations: Well-draining soil, Sand, Clay
Exposure Adaptations: Heat, Drought, All day sun, Partial sun
Function: Wildlife value, Screening, Background plant, Attracts butterflies


Prune by heading back as much of the new-ish growth as desired and shape to encourage long-term nice form and branching pattern in May, after flowering (1). Young plants can be pinched to increase branching density (7).



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