Ilex verticillata 'Nana' RED SPRITE
Common Name: winterberry
Type: Deciduous shrub
Family: Aquifoliaceae
Zone: 3 to 9
Height: 2.50 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.50 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to July
Bloom Description: Dull 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 soil in full sun to part shade. Adaptable to both light and heavy soils, but prefers moist, acidic, organic soils. Good tolerance for wet conditions (the species is native to swampy areas in Eastern North America). Winterberries are dioecious (separate male and female plants). This cultivar is a female plant and 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 'Jim Dandy') will be sufficient for pollinating 9-10 female 'Nana' plants. Prune to shape in early spring just before new growth begins.

Noteworthy Characteristics

This female, deciduous winterberry cultivar is a large-berried, slow-growing, dwarf shrub with an upright, rounded habit. Typically grows only 2-3' tall. Glossy medium green leaves drop in early autumn with no appreciable fall color. The whitish flowers are relatively inconspicuous. This female winterberry, as the common name suggests, produces profuse red berries which are extremely attractive in fall and winter, often persisting to early spring unless consumed by local bird populations. Often sold as Ilex verticillata 'Red Sprite'.


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

Garden Uses

This female winterberry has excellent year round interest, highlighted by the showy display of red berries in winter. Males and females together make excellent masses or groupings for shrub borders, foundations or accents. Also an effective low hedge. Excellent shrub for wet soils such as low spots or along streams or ponds.