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

Family: Aquifoliaceae (a-kwee-foh-lee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Ilex (EYE-leks) (Info)
Species: verticillata (ver-ti-si-LAH-tuh) (Info)
Cultivar: Winter Red
Additional cultivar information: (PP4143, reissued as PP29912 in 1979; aka Winter Red)
Hybridized by B. Simpson; Year of Registration or Introduction: 1977

7 vendors have this plant for sale.

5 members have or want this plant for trade.


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:
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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3 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

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

It is a beautiful shrub that is neat, clean, and looks good all four seasons. Not all shrubs look good all year with good form, foliage, buds, stems and bark, and berries, though the yellow fall color is not real good. Many shrub favorites as Forsythia have pretty flowers and not much more. I planted several of this female cultivar of 'Winter Red' in my backyard in southeast Pennsylvania, where this plant is commonly planted, and I planted one male cultivar called "Southern Gentleman' to be pollinate the girls. The white waxy flowers bloom in June, and the male flowers have four stamen while the female flowers have one pistil in the middle.It does not do well with drought and should be watered at such times.

Positive PinetopPlanter On Aug 11, 2009, PinetopPlanter from Auburn Four Corners, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Winter Red is a very nice Winterberry, which has fruited yearly for us with a good crop of berries. I have tried some other cultivars with different colored berries, but Winter Red is by far the most robust and vigorous of the cultivars I've tried. In a grey, late autumn/early winter landscape, the berries almost glow! I've not planted it in the best of spots in terms of ground moisture, yet it still grows well. I wouldn't hesitate growing this one for lack of a moist spot. Watering during dry spells when the plant was young was sufficient in our area, and now the plant is virtually neglectable!

Positive ViburnumValley On Jan 22, 2007, ViburnumValley from Scott County, KY (Zone 5b) wrote:

Winter Red winterberry is simply the best winterberry ever introduced to the gardening world. If the late Bob Simpson of Vincennes IN (nurseryman extraordinaire and just very nice gentle soul) never selected another plant in his lengthy career, it wouldn't have mattered. This plant stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Winter Red winterberry requires no more effort to grow than other Ilex verticillata, asking for only moist/wet soils (such as one might have by their downspout or leaky faucet) and acid reaction if it can get it, though I have grown most all the deciduous hollies here in central KY on circumneutral clay loam soils without difficulty. Oh, and Winter Red also prefers to have a willing suitor/pollinator such as 'Southern Gentleman'.

And that's when the show begins. Winter Red produces prodigious flowers, and when amply pollinated, goes to town with fruit production. One male pollinator per about 5 Winter Red is enough. The fruit starts coloring up before the leaves turn color in the fall, usually by early October here. The leaves may change to a decent yellow before dropping, but you won't worry about that in anticipation of the display to come.

There simply is no room for more berries on a stem. The bright red fruit jostle for position, weighing the branches with their numbers. This show goes on all winter, with fruit usually in decent color all the way up to leaf out in the spring. Birds seem to leave most all the winterberries alone in favor of the other available fruit.

And you thought the superlatives were done. Do you enjoy decorating for the winter holidays (or the rest of the year)? Cut stems of Winter Red will last for years if collected and put in dry arrangements. I have had them on my mantle and in vases for more than two years with retained (though dried) fruit which will turn a more blood red after 6 months.

If left to choose one fruiting plant (with a male pollinator), I think I'd select Winter Red, hands down.


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

Birmingham, Alabama
Indianapolis, Indiana
Vincennes, Indiana
Clermont, Kentucky
Georgetown, Kentucky
Lexington, Kentucky
Louisville, Kentucky
Nicholasville, Kentucky
Paris, Kentucky
Versailles, Kentucky
Chaska, Minnesota
Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Meshoppen, Pennsylvania
Nottingham, Pennsylvania
Portsmouth, Virginia

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