Winterberry, Ilex verticillata, is a native deciduous holly. Its tiny white flowers appear in midsummer, and in the fall beautiful red berries add their color to the autumnal show. Winterberries are dioecious, which is to say that it takes a male and a female plant to create those bright berries. If you are adding winterberries to your garden it is important to order a male and female. Only the female will produce berries, but it only takes one male to pollinate 10 females.
Winterberries have become more popular and are no long difficult to locate. Proven Winners offers Berry Nice, which produces the familiar red berries. They suggest Mr. Poppins as a male pollinator. Mr. Poppins will not grow as tall as Berry Nice, but is a handsome shrub in its own right. Wayside Gardens offers Golden Verboom, hybridized by a Dutch nursery, which has beautiful golden berries – no surprise. They offer Jim Dandy as a pollinator.
The deciduous winterberry is native to northeastern America and is cold hardy to zone 3. The winterberry shown above grows in a thicket, in a boggy spot by the side of the road. The photo was taken in September when the berries were not quite red ripe. They remain after the foliage has fallen off and blown away, and until the birds have eaten the last one.
Winterberry. Good for the birds. Good for winter decorations. Good to brighten the season.