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St. John’s Wort Blooms and Berries
by Deb Wiley - July 2013

Photo courtesy of Bew Wiley
The salmon berries of Hypearls Olivia (Hypericum andrisaemum Fdv Olivia) start life as golden flowers. The plant grows about 3 feet tall and about 2 feet wide.

The first time I saw Hypericum, with its elegant, yet simple berries, adding texture and color to a bouquet, I thought it was a plant only florists used. Thanks to many new introductions in the past few years, hypericum hybrids are poised to become hot new additions to gardens.

Hypericum, also called St. John’s wort, does the same thing for a perennial border as it does for a bouquet. Grow it individually, tucked between other perennials that reach about 2 to 3 feet tall, or mass them for impact.

Golden 1-inch flowers catch the eye when this woody perennial is in bloom. The petals fall, leaving berries that come in a wide range of colors, including white, yellow, orange, chartreuse, red, salmon-pink and black, depending on the variety.

As with roses, I find it difficult to cut them. They look so elegant, yet simple, sitting right on the plant, decorating my summer and fall garden.  


Common Name: St. John’s wort

Botanical Name: Hypericum spp.

Varieties/Cultivars to Look For: ‘Ames’, selected by Iowa State University; ‘Sunburst Midwest Strain’; Hypearls series; Harvest Festival series, including Chocolate or Coral; First Editions series, including Pumpkin (‘Kolmapuki’) or White (‘Kolmawhi’).  

Color: Golden flowers with white, yellow, orange, chartreuse, red, salmon-pink or black berries, depending on variety.

Blooming Period: Summer to fall

Type: Woody perennial. Hardy in USDA Zones 5 through 8.

Size: Varies by variety; 18 to 36 inches tall and wide  

Exposure: Full sun

When to Plant: Spring and early summer

How to Plant: Plant the top of the root ball level with the soil.  

Soil: Average, well-drained soil

Watering: Water well in the first year; drought tolerant once established.  

When to Prune: In spring, cut old wood and pinch tips to encourage bushiness. Cut berries for flower arrangements, as desired.

When to Fertilize: Starting in spring, monthly with 10-10-10 all-purpose fertilizer.

In Your Landscape: Deer and rabbit resistant. Plant in masses for a statement or use as a low hedge. Drought resistant when established.

Photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries
Hypericum First Editions Glory (Hypericum ‘Kolmaglor’)

Photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries
Blue Velvet hypericum (Hypericum ‘Cfflpc-1’) grows in a mound that reaches 2 to 3 feet tall and wide with blue-green leaves.

From Iowa Gardener Volume I Issue III.


Deb Wiley is a garden writer, editor, photographer and creative project manager from Des Moines, whose work appears in books, magazines and online.


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