Japanese barberry

Asked July 30, 2018, 3:22 PM EDT

I planted 3 small barberry shrubs in my yard 2 years ago. Do you recommend removing them to prevent deer tick (or other tick) habitat? They are still pretty small.

Dakota County Minnesota

1 Response

Japanese barberry (and all its non-sterile cultivars) are not recommended landscape plants. In fact, some of the most prolific seed-producers are listed as noxious weeds by the DNR. Birds distribute the seeds far and wide and the plants become a thicket in undeveloped areas, choking out native plants:
https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/woody/japanesebarberry.html

The connection to deer ticks simply adds a nail in this plant's coffin:
http://www.mda.state.mn.us/plants/pestmanagement/weedcontrol/wom/wotm201701barberry.aspx

While I don't think there is much danger to you from ticks overwintering in this plant, especially if you regularly use insect repellent, your plants do present the hazard listed in the references I gave you. There are many nice shrubs that are better behaved than barberry, such as potentilla, spirea, ninebark, forsythia, to name a few. Check here:
https://extension.umn.edu/find-plants/trees-and-shrubs