Common Name: winterberry
Area of Origin: Native to Eastern North America
Hardiness: Zone: 3 to 9
Characteristics: A deciduous shrub, 3' - 12' in height and width that has insignificant greenish-white flowers from June-July and showy berries in the winter that attack birds. Winterberries are dioecious (separate male and female plants) and only fertilised female flowers will produce berries - though only one male is needed to pollinate 9-10 females. The berries are spectacular and persist through the winter and into early spring. The leaves are dark green, toothed, elliptic to obovate and between 2-3" long. It is a slow growing deciduous syrup with an upright rounded habit.Negligible fall colour. There are many excellent cultivars which generally produce larger and more abundant fruit, such as ‘Nana’ RED SPRITE, ‘Cacapon’ or ‘Winter Red.’
Cultivation needs: Tolerates erosion, clay and wet soil and air pollution. Good for hedges and rain gardens with low maintenance requirements. Easily grown and tolerates both light and heavy soils though loves moist, acidic and organic loans. The flowers appear on new growth so need to prune in early spring before the new growth appears. In the wild it suckers to form large thickets and typically occurs in swamps and along ponds or streams and the edge of woods.
Uses: Excellent year round interest, great massed or grouped in shrub borders, foundations, native plant areas or bird gardens. Good as hedges and for damp soil in low lying areas or along streams and ponds.
Problems: No serious insect or disease problems. Occasionally susceptible to leaf spots and powdery mildew. Plants do not thrive in neutral to alkaline soils, often becoming chlorotic (yellowing of leaves).
'Afterglow' - Glossy green leaves that are smaller than usual. Compact growing (to 10' tall and wide) with large orange-red berries maturing to orange - best pollinated with early flowering males such as 'Jim Dandy'.
'Aurantiaca' - Orange-red fruit that fade to orange-yellow but the fruit are less persistent than most and can discolour. Slightly larger than 'Red Sprite' growing to around 5' tall. Pollinator 'Jim Dandy'
'Cacapon' - Similar to 'Afterglow', but more upright in growth, grows to 5' tall and is heavy-fruiting, with true red fruit and textured dark green glossy leaves. Pollinator 'Jim Dandy'
'Jim Dandy' - A slow-growing, early-flowering dwarf male clone, great pollinator for early-flowering female clones, grows to about 5' tall.
'Red Sprite' - Award-winning dwarf female clone matures to only 3' to 4' tall with nice mounded habit. Early bloomer with numerous very large red fruit which persist well in winter. A USDA release that is widely considered to be one of the best. Use 'Jim Dandy' to pollinate.
'Shortcake' very similar to 'Red Sprite', but larger (to 5' tall), with smaller fruit.
Shaver' - An early-flowering form (use 'Jim Dandy' to pollinate) with orange-red fruit and glossy leaves on an upright, 5' tall shrub.
'Southern Gentlemen' - A late-blooming male pollinator for 'Winter Red', 'Winter Gold', 'Capapon', 'Shaver', 'Sparkleberry' and other later blooming females.
'Stoplight' - Large, deep red fruit and glossy foliage on a 8' tall plant. Pollinator 'Jim Dandy'
'Sunsplash' - Rare, unusual form with irregularly mottled leaves that are marked with yellow and are complimented by red drupes.
'Winter Gold' - A sport of 'Winter Red' with unusual pinkish or golden-orange fruit, grows to around 8' tall and wide.
'Winter Red' One of the best winterberries, upright rounded shrub about 8' tall with dark green foliage and profuse bright red berries that consistently persist into winter.