Winterberry Holly, Black Alder 'Winter Red'

Ilex verticillata

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
Registered or introduced: 1977




Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade


Grown for foliage


Foliage Color:

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)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone



Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

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

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

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 is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Birmingham, Alabama

Indianapolis, Indiana

Vincennes, Indiana

Clermont, Kentucky

Georgetown, Kentucky

Lexington, Kentucky

Louisville, Kentucky

Nicholasville, Kentucky

Paris, Kentucky

Versailles, Kentucky

Lexington, Massachusetts

Chaska, Minnesota

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Meshoppen, Pennsylvania

Nottingham, Pennsylvania

Portsmouth, Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Jul 2, 2017, RosemaryK from Lexington, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

I like Winter Red a lot too. I tested it in a very sandy area that is impossible to improve enough. Compared to several other cultivars it has been the most drought tolerant. Since then, I have planted the Poppins family and the Little Goblin family, and they seem to be OK too, so time will tell how those guys compare. And of course, every year more and more compost gets hauled into the woodsy spot where they grow. I added another Winter Red this year, so I expect a great show in the fall and winter.


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.


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!


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 t... read more