Ilex verticillata 'Winter Red'

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 8 Professionals
Common Name: winterberry
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 6.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge, Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Erosion, Clay Soil, Wet Soil, Air Pollution


Easily grown in average, medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Adaptable to both light and heavy soils, but prefers moist, acidic, organic loams. Good tolerance for wet conditions (the species is native to swampy areas in Eastern North America). Winterberries are dioecious (separate male and female plants). ‘Winter Red’ is a female clone which needs a male pollinator to produce the attractive red berries which are the signature of the winterberries. Generally one male winterberry (such as I. verticillata ‘Southern Gentleman’) will be sufficient for pollinating 9-10 ‘Winter Red’ plants. Prune to shape in early spring just before new growth appears.

Noteworthy Characteristics

‘Winter Red’ is a female winterberry cultivar that typically matures to 6-8’ tall. Among winterberry cultivars, it is noted for heavy fruiting, bright red fruit color and good retention of the bright fruit color throughout winter. It is a slow-growing, deciduous, suckering shrub with an upright rounded habit. Lustrous dark green leaves (to 3-5” long). Relatively inconspicuous whitish flowers appear in the leaf axils in late spring. Flowers, if properly pollinated, give way to a profuse crop of bright red berries (3/8” diameter) in fall. Berries are quite showy and will persist throughout the winter (hence the common name) often to early spring. Berries provide considerable impact and interest to the winter landscape. Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Gold Medal (Steyer Award) in 1995.


No serious insect or disease problems. Occasional problems include leaf spots and powdery mildew. Susceptible to chlorosis in high pH (alkaline) soils.

Garden Uses

Excellent year round interest, highlighted by the showy display of red berries in winter. Mass or group in shrub borders and foundations. Hedge. Excellent shrub for moist soils in low spots or along streams and ponds.