Ilex verticillata 'Winter Gold'
Common Name: winterberry
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 5.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 5.00 to 8.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Greenish-white
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge, Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Leaf: Good Fall
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Erosion, Clay Soil, Wet Soil, Air Pollution

Culture

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 Gold' is a female cultivar which needs a male pollinator to produce the attractive orange-yellow berries which are the signature of the winterberries. Male pollinator must be a shrub whose flowers bloom at the same time (I. verticillata 'Southern Gentleman' is recommended). One male winterberry will be sufficient for pollinating 6-10 female shrubs. Prune to shape in early spring just before new growth appears.

Noteworthy Characteristics

‘Winter Gold’ is a female winterberry that typically matures to 5-8’ tall and as wide. It is a branch sport of I. verticillata 'Winter Red'. It is noted for its dense, heavy fruiting of orange-yellow berries, with good retention of the fruit throughout winter. This is a slow-growing, deciduous, multi-stemmed, suckering shrub with an upright-rounded habit. Lustrous dark green leaves (to 3” long) turn yellow-bronze in fall. Relatively inconspicuous greenish-white flowers appear in the leaf axils in late spring. Flowers, if properly pollinated, give way to a profuse crop of bright, orange-yellow berries (3/8” diameter) in fall. Showy berries will persist throughout the winter (hence the common name) and often to early spring. Berries provide considerable impact and interest to the winter landscape. Berries are a food source for birds.

Problems

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. Fruiting branches may be cut for indoor decoration.