Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Winterberry Holly, Black Alder
Ilex verticillata 'Red Sprite'

Family: Aquifoliaceae (a-kwee-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ilex (EYE-leks) (Info)
Species: verticillata (ver-ti-si-LAH-tuh) (Info)
Cultivar: Red Sprite
Additional cultivar information: (aka Compacta, Macrocarpa, Nana)
Hybridized by L. J. Sicbaldi; Year of Registration or Introduction: 1980

Synonym:Ilex verticillata var. nana

4 vendors have this plant for sale.

One member has or wants this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)
4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)
6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)
USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)
USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade


Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Soil pH requirements:
4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings
By simple layering

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored
N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed

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2 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive Rickwebb On Feb 4, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

'Red Sprite' is commonly planted in southeast Pennsylvania, usually with the male of 'Jim Dandy' that also usually gets about 4 to 6 feet high in landscapes. They are both compact selections with smaller, rounder leaves than the straight species. Red Sprite usually bears the big red fruit well in late summer into winter.

However, I found a landscape that was designed by a landscape architect that unfortunately must have planted all eight Winterberry shrubs as the female 'Red Sprite' with no males. Thus, I find full-grown handsome shrubs about 6 feet high and wider that are bearing only a few red fruit.

Positive ViburnumValley On Jan 21, 2007, ViburnumValley from Scott County, KY (Zone 5b) wrote:

'Red Sprite' winterberry is an excellent deciduous holly for smaller landscapes. It is much more compact than most other winterberries, and I think it shows off a more silvery gray bark as well.

The only drawback I'd note is that it seems to be stripped of fruit sooner than any other winterberry around central KY.

'Red Sprite' only asks for similar consideration of wetter site conditions (like by a downspout), and acid soil if you've got it. It has done perfectly fine on circumneutral clay loam soils here. Oh, and like the rest of the female winterberries, it likes a cordial male plant for pollination. 'Jim Dandy' will play this role just right.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Bear, Delaware
Hennepin, Illinois
Indianapolis, Indiana
Vincennes, Indiana
Clermont, Kentucky
Georgetown, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
West Chester, Pennsylvania

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