Best winterberry

(Question)

Being Christmas and looking forward to future Christmases, I am interested in planting a Winterberry. Since space is not an issue, what variety would be best in sandy soils with a Barrie climate. I am interested in using the berries for Christmas decorations.

Is there another species that retains its massive red display of berries for decorating than the winterberry? Thanks

(Answer)

Hi,

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) is a tough native plant that’s hardy to Zone 4, so it will definitely be hardy in your Zone 5 garden in Barrie. However, these plants prefer a slightly acidic moist soil. Because sandy soil does not hold moisture as well as clay, you may not be able to keep your winterberry completely happy. Also note that you’ll need a male and a female plant to produce the red fruit (drupes not actually berries) as these plants are not self-pollinating. Furthermore, the male plants should be within 40 feet of the female plants for pollination to occur. A good local nursery may be able to advise you on the best varieties for your garden.

Ilex really is one of the most showy plants for red fruit, and are valuable for floral design because the fruit last for a long time. Alternatives include holly (Ilex x meserveae), which also prefer acidic soil, and you’ll need male and female plants. Although they are hardy to Zone 5, which is the upper limit to their hardiness range, a very harsh winter can damage them, and even during a normal winter, the leaves may succumb to dessication from drying winds, so the winterberry would definitely be a better bet if you can keep it moist enough.

 

For more information about growing winterberry, you might want to visit these websites:

https://www.provenwinners.com/plants/ilex/berry-nicewinterberry-holly-ilex-verticillata

https://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Ilex+verticillata

 

 

Good luck with your plantings!