Vertical Accent

‘Orange Rocket’ Adds a Blast of Color

By Kimberly Toscano

When I plant a barberry in the landscape, I know what to expect. Barberries have proven themselves time and again as dependable, adaptable shrubs, and ‘Orange Rocket’ is no exception. It’s as low-maintenance, deer resistant, and virtually indestructible as any barberry. That’s why plant breeders often revisit old standbys like the humble barberry, but in the process they also introduce something entirely new.

With ‘Orange Rocket’ Barberry that “something new” is a trait widely sought after for modern gardens – narrow, upright growth. Ultimately reaching 4 to 8 feet tall, but only 2 feet in width over ten years, ‘Orange Rocket’ provides a tight, vertical element to meet your design needs.

Why Vertical?

Vertical lines provide strength and movement to a garden. Vertical forms are often used as accents because they create a certain amount of visual tension in the garden, contrasting the more prominent horizontal lines. Vertical elements also control movement through a space. Not physical movement (though that is also possible), but visual movement. They break up horizontal lines that can unintentionally carry the eye straight through a garden. Instead, vertical lines slow the movement of the eye, allowing viewers to take in more of the landscape.

Vertical accents also draw the eye upward, connecting earth and sky. Vertical vegetation can be used to terminate sight lines, providing opportunities to slowly reveal each section of the garden as opposed to seeing the entire landscape from a single vantage point. Finally, vertical hedges can be used to separate garden rooms and create a sense of enclosure or intimacy.

Designing with ‘Orange Rocket’

‘Orange Rocket’ Barberry offers more than simply vertical structure. Unique foliage color provides contrast to surrounding plants. The combination of bold form and vibrant color yields a strong accent for containers or beds that fits myriad design styles from formal to minimalist to Asian-inspired.

When it comes to plant pairing, the rich ruby foliage combines with green, yellow, blue, silvers and plums for endless planting options. The following combinations take advantage of contrasts in color and texture.

Formal Settings: The small, deep green leaves of Baby Gem™ Boxwood contrast nicely with the rosy foliage of ‘Orange Rocket’. For a dramatic entry, repeat the vertical lines of ‘Orange Rocket’ along the length of a drive or walkway.
Oranges and Lemons: The color combination of ‘Orange Rocket’ Barberry with Miss Lemon™ Abelia is simply stunning. Warm colors create energy throughout the garden. For an even livelier combination, try pairing with the golden-hued ‘Sunshine’ Ligustrum.

Alluring Texture: Create textural contrast by pairing ‘Orange Rocket’ Barberry with the bold foliage of cannas or the strappy foliage of Evergreen Stella™ Daylily. Grasses also make beautiful partners. For color and texture, try pairing with Evercolor® ‘Everillo’ Carex in the ground or in a container.

Silvers and Blues: Blue-hued evergreens are a common pairing with barberry, but why not shake things up with Beyond Blue™ Festuca? The evergreen foliage provides yearlong color. With violet-blue spring flowers and silver-tinged foliage, Chef’s Choice® Rosemary offers an unusual partner to ‘Orange Rocket’. Together they will be the talk of the neighborhood.


Looking for other plant pairing ideas? Browse our collection – the diverse selections and unique varieties in the Southern Living® Plant Collection offer countless ways to revitalize the landscape.