Plant of the Month

January 2019

Holly, Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)

  • Type: Deciduous Shrub
  • Light: Full Sun/Part Sun
  • Water: Medium to Wet
  • Soil: Acidic
  • Height: 5-15 Feet
  • Width: 3-12 Feet
  • Flower: Greenish-White
  • Bloom Time: April-June

You may not be familiar with winterberry as a landscape plant but I’m sure you have seen winterberries in wreaths or floral displays. The American winterberry is somewhat unique because it is a deciduous holly. Its fall color is unimpressive but once it drops its leaves a fully-fruited winterberry holly is among the most spectacular of all berried bushes. Fruits can be so numerous and so startlingly bright that the twigs are hardly visible! The attractive bright red fruit of winterberry is eaten by small mammals and several species of birds. My winterberries typically attract wood thrushes and bluebirds so I have to be quick to cut what I need for wreaths!

Like all hollies, shrubs of both sexes must be located within the same general area to ensure fruit production on the female holly. Both plants produce flowers which attract honeybees and other pollinators and one male can pollinate several females. Fortunately winterberry hollies are typically sold by sex since the berries are definitely the star of this plant! - by D. Martin

To see past Plant of the Month selections click here.

Blount County Extension Master Gardeners

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