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Ilex verticillata

Winterberry /

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Winterberry is a deciduous holly that is slow growing, with an upright-rounded habit. In the wild, it often suckers to form large thickets or colonies but can be pruned to form a small tree. Inconspicuous greenish-white flowers appear in late spring and give way to a crop of bright red berries in late summer to fall. Berries are quite showy and persist through most of the winter, hence the common name.


  • Excellent year round interest, highlighted by showy red berries in winter
  • Nectar is especially attractive to small native bees
  • Cedar waxwings, bluebirds and robins savor the bright red berries that hold well into winter
  • Gorgeous in winter floral arrangements
  • Good nesting site for a variety of birds
  • Tolerates a wide range of conditions including wet soils

Homeowner Growing and Maintenance Tips

Easy to grow in average, acidic, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Adapts to both light and heavy soils, but prefers moist, acidic, organic loams. Tolerates poorly drained soils including wet, boggy or swampy conditions. Plant in masses to assure berry set. Prune to shape in early spring just before new growth appears.

8-10 Feet


8-10 Feet

USDA Hardiness Zone 3-9

Native Range

Wet woods, swamps and thickets; Newfoundland and Quebec through Ontario to Michigan and Minnesota south to Indiana, Missouri and Florida.

Native Trivia

You get to enjoy these stunning red berries most of the winter because winterberry is one of the foods birds wait to eat until many frosts have softened the fruit.

"Birds live in this plant in the summer but they really like it for its reliable winter crop of red berries."

Characteristics & Attributes

Plan Sub Group
  • Medium to Tall Shrubs
  • Filtered Shade
  • Sun
  • Acidic
  • Wide soil tolerance
Soil Moisture Preference
  • Average
  • Wet
Attracts Wildlife
  • Beneficial insects
  • Songbirds
Bloom Time
  • Late Summer
Critter Resistance
  • Deer Resistant
Habitat Collection
  • Songbird
  • Wet Sun
Foliage Color
  • Light Green
  • Bog, water garden
Native to
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin