Winterberry Holly | Ilex verticillata

With fall comes an initial blaze of color as the trees turn, followed by a whole lot of brown and gray. Luckily we have a gorgeous plant for fall color: Winterberry holly, or Ilex verticillata if you like botanical names.  There are several varieties, but some of the more commonly seen winterberry hollies in the DC metro area are:

  • ‘Winter Red’ – a prolific berry producer that grows to 6 to 8 feet
  • ‘Red Sprite’ – a dwarf variety that stays to around 2 to 4 feet
  • ‘Apollo’ – a male pollinator that hangs out at around 8 feet. You can’t have berries without a boy plant. Yay, nature!

I was just measuring a site for a new client and the folks who did their original landscaping loved winterberry holly. Here’s a great example of what they do in late September:

And, here’s a different client site, taken in December. Oh no, where are the leaves?! Oh, that’s right. Ilex verticillata is a deciduous shrub, meaning that it will drop its leaves in the fall. With berries like this, who needs leaves?

All the berries make winterberry holly an excellent choice for those wanting to provide something for the birds. The above photo of the leafless holly was taken right before Snowpocalypse burst upon us a couple of years ago. The happy birds stripped the bushes bare over the ensuing weeks and were later seen looking for South Beach Diet birdseed. True story.


Want to buy Winterberry Holly in Virginia?

Dave Marciniak is a landscape designer and speaker. He lives in Culpeper, Virginia and can be found via his website and on Twitter.

One comment

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *