Winterberry. A shrub with glossy green leaves during the growing season. Produces berries. But wait — in late summer, these berries slowly start to turn color and by early fall – they’re red. When the leaves come down, you will see masses of bright red berries that light up the fall landscape. Best of all – they stay red into mid to late winter so when the snows come in December – (at holiday time, right?) – you will have this red bouncing off the white snow. Gorgeous.
A member of the Holly family (Ilex) – there are several varieties that are Zone 4 hardy and will compliment any landscape. We have a grouping of six at home, underneath one of our flowering crab trees. The Red Sprite Winterberry (pictured here) will grow to be 4′-6′ in height with a width of approximately 3′. The leaves do turn a yellow in the fall – but the berries are the show that this plant puts on. The important fact that one must remember when planting Winterberry, is that you need at least two shrubs – a male and a female. The male pollinator for the Red Sprite would be Jim Dandy. This plant gets to be the same height, but just a little bit wider. It produces no fruit so when planting – if you planted three – 2 Red Sprite, and 1 Jim Dandy – put the Jim Dandy in the middle or the back of the border depending on how you design your shrub bed.
These plants are very easy to care for. They prefer moist, acidic soil – and can be planted in sun to part shade. Pruning should happen in the spring before the growth starts so when the flowers and berries do set – you won’t be pruning them off. Remember – you can’t plant things in the winter time – but with some careful planning you can enjoy your landscape 12 months a year!