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Winterberry HollyIlex verticillata 'Winter Red'

  • Winterberry Holly - Ilex Verticillata
  • Winterberry Holly - Ilex Verticillata

A cultivar of our native wetland holly, 'Winter Red' has abundant clusters of long lasting, bright red fruits and lustrous, thick, dark green leaves. The leaves fall off the shrub in autumn, making the berry display all the more showy in the winter landscape. This is mostly likely why it is the most popular American selection for cutting.

This holly is a female cultivar and requires a pollinator for fruit production. It is advisable to plant one male in close proximity (within 50 feet) for every 3–5 females. 'Southern Gentlemen' is the pollinator of choice; 'Appolo' and 'Raritan Chief' are also good options.

Hardiness Zones

The winterberry holly can be expected to grow in Hardiness Zones 3–9. View Map

Tree Type

This is an ornamental shrub, typically planted for the visual interest and beauty it can bring to landscape.

Mature Size

Winterberry holly grows to a height of 6–9' and a spread of 6–8' at maturity.

Growth Speed Slow Growth Rate

This shrub grows at a slow rate, with height increases of less than 12" per year.

Sun Preference

Full sun and partial shade are best for this shrub, meaning it prefers a minimum of 4 hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight each day.

Soil Preference

Winterberry holly grows in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, silty loam, well-drained, wet and clay soils. It is not drought-tolerant.


This shrub:
  • Yields bright red, berry-like fruit that is ⅜" in diameter and persists into mid-winter.
  • Features simple, lustrous dark green leaves that are 1½–3" long with serrated or double-serrated margins.
  • Produces inconspicuous white flowers in late spring or early summer.
  • Grows in a rounded shape.
  • Requires a male pollinator such as 'Southern Gentlemen,' 'Appolo' or 'Raritan Chief.'
  • Is commonly used in holiday decorations. The cut stems with keep for months in a vase without water.

Wildlife Value

Over 40 species of birds are known to eat winterberry fruit. The fruit is bitter and astringent, however, so overwintering birds will leave this fruit until other food supplies have dwindled. The dense branches provide shelter and nesting sites for birds.


Winter Red winterberry holly was introduced by Simpson Nursery Company of Vincennes, IN. Winterberry is native to North America with a range from Nova Scotia to Ontario, west to Wisconsin, south to Florida and west to Missouri.