In The Garden Now….'Afterglow’ Winterberry

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Text and photos by Victoria Gilleland

Holiday color is everywhere……. except maybe in the garden. Grey doesn’t have to be the predominant color in our gardens as winter makes its appearance. 

The addition of a few plants with colorful winter berries could be just the touch your garden needs to liven it up for the new season. 

The tried and true ‘Afterglow’ Winterberry is a deciduous shrub that produces masses of bright reddish orange berries.

They’re a real standout in the fall and winter garden!

Winterberry is native to eastern North America and is a member of the holly family. Berries produced in fall typically last though winter as long as the birds don’t eat them. For optimum berry production they should be grown in full sun. 

Plants grown in wet sites tend to spread to form thickets where as those grown in drier places remain more compact. Shade grown plants tend to be open and produce few berries so look for a sunny spot for this plant.

‘Afterglow’ Winterberry may reach anywhere from 4-12 feet in height. More compact varieties such as ‘Red Sprite’ and ‘Little Goblin Orange’ are available. 

Plants should be pruned in late winter before new growth begins in spring. White flowers form on new growth and are followed by berries in fall. 

Winterberry plants are dioecious which means there are separate male and female plants.

Fertilized female flowers produce the bright red or orange berries. One male winterberry plant is usually enough to pollinate 6-10 female plants. 

A meandering row of winterberry can make an outstanding hedge or privacy screen. A few brightly berried plants grown in large containers can make an interesting holiday display.

Give these splendid shrubs a chance in your garden! They’re available now in local nurseries.

Botanical Name: Ilex verticillata ‘Afterglow’

Victoria Gilleland is the owner of Cottage Garden Designs, a Garden Design company specializing in Redesign of Residential Gardens, Garden Consultation and Coaching. She has been designing gardens in the northwest for over 25 years. ( )


joettafort December 21, 2019 at 10:06 AM  

I'm loving my Japanese skimmia - an evergreen plant, it's been loaded with berries for 3 months now, and going strong!

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