Ilex vert Berry Heavy® Description
Could your landscape use a little pizzazz in winter? Berry Heavy® winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata) is just the plant to do it! Unlike what you may think of with other hollies, this super-showy native species is deciduous – that means it loses its leaves in winter. But far from being a liability, this quirk gives its abundant set of big, bright red berries in fall and winter even more impact in the landscape.
Winterberry holly blooms in late spring with small white flowers. These soon develop into green berries, which aren’t very noticeable since they’re hidden in the leaves. As the cooler temperatures of autumn come along, the berries turn red. In mid-autumn, the foliage blazes bright yellow, then drops to reveal the berry-laden branches. It is spectacular! Branches of mature plants can be cut and used in arrangements and for other holiday décor.
A note about winterberry holly pollination: Winterberry holly plants are either male or female, and both a male and female plant need to be present in order for fruit to form on the female. Berry Heavy is a female variety, so you will need to purchase the male variety, Mr. Poppins winterberry holly, as well. Only the female plants will develop berries, but one male will pollinate up to five females. Wondering how far apart you can plant the male and female holly plants? Anywhere within about 50’ of each other – the distance you can expect a pollinator to fly on a single foraging trip – is suitable.
Special features: Native plant, Winter interest, Cut branch, Tolerates wet soil, Shade tolerant, Heat tolerant, Cold tolerant
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- Botanical name: Ilex verticillata 'Spravy'
- Common name:
- Sun exposure:
Full sun (min. 6 hrs/day) to part shade (4-6 hrs/day)
- Ship form:
- Soil type:
Grows in average to wet soil.
- Soil moisture:
Average to abundant.
- Height x width:
6-8' tall and wide
- Flower color:
White flowers develop into green, then red, berries
- Foliage color:
- Season of interest:
Hedge, native plant gardens, wildlife gardens, specimen (be sure to pair with a male plant)
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Soil: Moist but well-drained soils are best. Established winterberry holly can take some dryness, but severe or frequent dry conditions will impact berry set. Occasional standing water or very wet soil is ok.
Light: Full sun (6+ hrs/day) to part shade (4-6 hrs/day). Can grow in full shade, but flowering and subsequently, fruiting, will be diminished, and plants will be less full.
Water: Average to abundant.
Space: Space Berry Heavy plants at least 6' apart, and plant the male pollinator within 50' of all females.
Fertilizing: Little needed. If desired, fertilize in early spring, once the ground has thawed, with a granular rose fertilizer. A second application may be made in late spring/early summer as well.
Winterizing: Nothing special required. Once berries soften in mid-late winter, they turn brown and generally get consumed by birds.
Maintenance: Female winterberry hollies cannot be pruned any time of the year without impacting flowering and thereby, fruiting, so it's best to avoid pruning them altogether except to remove any dead wood and once mature, to remove one or two of the oldest stems each year to encourage new and vigorous growth.
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