Looking for winter interest and want to feed your hungry birds when other food sources have been exhausted? Plant a winterberry! Rounded, upright habit. Tiny flowers are described as inconspicuous, but look closely – they are delicate and beautiful!
Like other members of the Holly family, winterberry is dioeicous – male and female flowers are on separate plants. Flowers on fertilized female plants turn into dense clusters of bright red berries that remain on the branches throughout winter. Unlike other members of the Holly family, leaves of winterberry are not shaped with sharp teeth and are not evergreen.
Attracts birds. Provides cover and nesting sites. Special value to native bees.
How do you know if you have a male or female winterberry? Male flowers have four stamens, they lack the female pistil, and are borne in clusters of seven to twelve. Female flowers have a globose pistil and are borne singly or in clusters of three. Both a female and male plant are needed to produce berries. One male will pollinate 6-10 females. Plants should be located within 100 feet of each other.
‘Maryland Beauty’ was cultivated to be smaller than the straight species with a dense, heavy fruiting (more abundant then straight species). Slow growing and suckering shrub. Ilex verticillata ‘Jim Dandy’ is recommended as a partner.
Height: 5-7 ft.
Spread: 5-7 ft.
Bloom time: May
Sun: full sun to part shade
Water: medium to wet
According to Rutgers University, Ilex sp. are “seldom severely damaged” by deer.
photo credit: Spring Meadow