Monday, November 9, 2009

Landscape - Winterberry Holly

Winterberry holly is a great landscape plant for Delaware and adds significant winter interest with persistant berries. The following is more information.

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) is a deciduous holly with very attractive red fruits that persist long into winter. The bright red (or in some varieties, orange) berries light up the winter landscape, especially when seen against a dark evergreen background. This native shrub has an upright form with multiple stems, reaching heights of 10-15 feet in the wild but most often maturing around 8 feet in gardens. Winterberry thrives in wet or moist soil that is high in organic matter; it also tolerates flooding. It is adaptable to many other types of soil but frequent drought does not suit it. Best fruit production occurs when the plant is grown in full sun to partial shade. There are many good cultivars on the market, but the one that tops the list is probably Winter Red®. Its bright red fruits do not fade in sunlight and persist for a very long time. This female holly will require a male pollinator to be planted nearby. Of course, wild growing male hollies in the nearby woods can also supply the necessary pollen for fruit production. When the soil is to its liking, Winterberry produces suckers that result in broad colonies of the plant. For a quicker natural effect, group three to five plants together for a mass planting. Look for ‘Red Sprite’, a compact, rounded form about 3 x 3, or ‘Sparkleberry’, a hybrid selection released by the US National Arboretum. All these deciduous hollies are deer resistant and provide shelter and food for birds. Once a few freezes have sweetened the berries, winter resident songbirds will visit for a snack.

Information from the January, 2007 edition of the Southeast District Commercial Horticulture Newsletter from the University of Georgia

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