Winterberry - Ilex Verticillita
Winterberry, much like its name implies, is a lovely bush that features pretty red berries in the late Fall and Winter. Due to its brightly colored berries, the Winterberry bush is highly sought after to provide color during the winter and is hardy in zones 3 - 9. Winterberry is naturally found throughout Eastern and central North America and in parts of Canada. Although it is more commonly found in moist acidic soils, such as in forests and near creeks, it can easily adapt to a dryer soil. The Winterberry bush is slow growing and typically grows to between 3 and 10 feet in height but can be as large as 15 feet. In wetter soils the shrub will spread, or sucker, however, in dryer soil it tends to not spread. Winterberry bushes are either male or female with only the females producing berries. A male bush is needed to pollinate female bushes with one male bush being adequate to pollinate several female bushes. In the absence of a male bush, a female bush will not produce berries. Winterberry bushes are deciduous and lose their leaves in the Fall. The leaves of the Winterberry, usually around 3 inches long, are dark green and turn yellow in Autumn. In the Spring, the bush will have small unobtrusive white flowers. Eventually the flowers on the female bushes evolve into colorful berries. Planting and caring for Winterberry shrubs is fairly simple. One mainly needs adequately moist acidic soil and an area that receives at least partial sunlight. The more sunlight the female shrubs receive, the more berries they will produce. Winterberry berries, once fully ripened, are a popular food for various winter birds and therefore may be of particular interest to bird enthusiasts. Winterberry bushes have few known pest and disease problems which also adds to their appeal.