Winterberry

Ilex verticillata

Winterberry is a deciduous holly featuring very colorful fruit once the leaves drop in the fall. This is a good plant for winter holiday decorations and for attracting birds into the garden. It is very effective in mass plantings, such as the one across from the WOW Children’s Garden entrance. Native to swampy areas, it grows well in wet soils but is adaptable to other conditions. It likes slightly acidic soils and grows in full sun or partial shade. It will produce more fruit in full sun however.  Hollies are dioecious – male and female flowers grow on separate plants. It is necessary to have a male plant nearby for the female plants to produce the highly desirable fruit.

Winterberry (Ilex x 'Sparkleberry')

There are a number of different hybrid winterberries developed by crossing Ilex verticillata and Ilex serrata. Some featured in the Garden include Bonfire, Harvest Red and Sparkleberry (shown above).  These grow faster, but the berries also fade on the side facing the sun. Bonfire features slender branches that droop from the weight of the berries while Sparkleberry has a very upright form to the shrub.

Type deciduous shrub Bird on winterberry
Size 6-10′ tall
Flower small white flowers; spring
Fruit bright red berries
Hardy Zones 3-9
Native Eastern North America
Winterberry (Ilex x 'Bonfire')Winterberry (Ilex x ‘Bonfire’)
Winterberry (Ilex x 'Harvest Red')Winterberry (Ilex x ‘Harvest Red’)
berries forming on winterberry before the leaves drop Winterberry in the snow

See other plant profiles