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Ilex verticillata (Un)Common Winterberry

Categories:Attractive to Birds Native Plants Shrubs Winter Interest

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Ilex verticillata, common winterberry, is a deciduous holly; with the exception of the American holly (Ilex opaca) and dwarf yaupon hollies for parterre, common winterberry is the only holly I can warm to in the landscape.  The female is the one you want (although a male will need to be planted nearby to ensure fruit set).

In the late fall into winter, Ilex verticillata is a beacon. Excellent option for persistently wet areas.
Regarding the male, you only need one male for every 6-10 females, and Ilex verticillata ‘Southern Gentleman’ is recommended for Winter Red. Check with nursery to ensure bloom times of your selected male coincides with your female plant.

The variety pictured herein is Winter Red, and Sparkleberry is another winner.  Height/Width are both in the 6′-8′ range, and the inconsequential flowers bloom late May-July.

Winterberry tolerates a wide variety of conditions and does well in acidic soils. Chlorisis is a sign of alkaline conditions.  Unlike many shrubs, Ilex verticillata is highly tolerant of wet feet.

Prune in early spring prior to new growth.  Worth mentioning is that one of the qualities I like about winterberry (and is seldom mentioned) is the contrast of the red berries with the somewhat steely gray bark…Ilex verticillata would not be quite as handsome with a darker bark in my estimation.

Ilex verticillata.  image.
Ilex verticillata. image.

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