February 14, 2019


Photographer: Dale Hugo 
Summary Authors: Dale Hugo; Kathie Hayden 

Shown above is a row of vivid winterberry shrubs that I couldn't help but notice at a rest stop near the Wisconsin River, in Portage, Wisconsin. During the drab days of midwinter, these are one of the few plants that have showy colors. In fact, on my trip south from Minneapolis towards Chicago, they were about the only natural color I observed!

According to the Chicago Botanic Garden's Plant Information Service, the winterberry (Ilex verticillata) is a deciduous holly. It's their abundant red berries that produce the rich color. They grow well in partial shade or full sunshine; however, the best fruit set is in full sun and moist, acidic soil (4.5 to 6.5 pH) that's high in organic matter. Individual plants have either male or female flowers; therefore, they'll need one of each to produce fruit.