Winterberry Holly, Black Alder, Deciduous Holly 'Bonfire'


Family: Aquifoliaceae (a-kwee-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ilex (EYE-leks) (Info)
Cultivar: Bonfire
Hybridized by B. Simpson
Registered or introduced: 1983
Synonym:Ilex verticillata
Synonym:Ilex serrata x verticillata




Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

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

Water Requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 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:

Unknown - Tell us

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


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

Lula, Georgia

Vincennes, Indiana

Clermont, Kentucky

Georgetown, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Howell, New Jersey

Heath, Ohio

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


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

'Bonfire' winterberry is a stellar performer here in central KY. Reaching 12'x12' (3.6 m x 3.6 m) with time, it is a firestorm of fruit through the winter months. The red berries are very persistent, ignored by birds till nearly the time for new foliage to emerge.

Most winterberries like soil on the acid side (though they grow fine here in circumneutral clay soils) and prefer to have regular moisture. Mine have performed best when in wet areas (like by a downspout or near where I irrigate pots constantly).

'Bonfire' will want to have one of the male deciduous hollies with overlapping bloom time nearby for pollination. 'Apollo', 'Jim Dandy', or 'Southern Gentleman' should do, but refer to a good bloom chart to be sure.