How to Prune a Winterberry


Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) is the common name of a deciduous shrub, native to North America. The Ilex genus contains species that are commonly known as hollies. Winterberry grows to a height of 6 to 10 feet with an almost-equal spread. Winterberry's flowers are inconspicuous but they give way to brilliant red berries in the winter. The fruit resembles that of the familiar Christmas holly (Ilex opaca), but the leaves are not as deeply serrated. Although winterberry requires little pruning, late winter and early spring are the best times to do so.

Step 1

Remove any diseased or damaged shoots by cutting them back to a main branch.

Step 2

Remove any growth that is not in keeping with the desired shape of the winterberry shrub. Snip shoots back to the length or height desired.

Step 3

Rake up all pruning debris and bag it. Lay down a fresh 3-inch layer of mulch, 2 inches from the base of the shrub and spread it 1 foot past the dripline.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Rake
  • Bag
  • Mulch


  • United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service: Ilex Verticillata, Winterberry
  • University of Connecticut Plant Database: Ilex Verticillata
  • ‭"Taylor's 50 Best Shrubs: Easy Plants for More Beautiful Gardens"; Frances Tenenbaum; 1999
Keywords: prune winterberry, trim winterberry, cut back winterberry

About this Author

Victoria Hunter has been a freelance writer since 2005, specializing in gardening-related topics and the real estate industry. She is a former broadcaster and real estate agent who has provided audio and written services to small businesses and large corporations worldwide. She writes for, GardenGuides and ProFlowers, among others. Hunter holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/creative writing.