How to Care for a Winterberry Plant


Plant winterberry and you will encourage all manner of furry visitors to feast on the bounty of delicious food it provides. During the summer months, winterberry sports large green leaves and small white flowers---perfect for borders, natural fencing or hedges. Winter, however, is when the true beauty of its bright red berries pop out of a snowy landscape to welcome thankful foragers. Even if you live in an area without snow, winterberry is a hardy and beautiful choice for USDA zones 4 and up.

Step 1

Choose a location with full sun to part shade. Winterberry shrubs like well-drained soil but will tolerate moist to wet soil that is slightly acidic.

Step 2

Amend the soil at planting only if necessary to provide a range of 3.5 to 6.0 pH. Use a home soil test kit or contact your local university extension office to find out the pH level of your soil prior to planting.

Step 3

Plant the female and male cultivars in close proximity to one another. The female plant, which will bear the beautiful scarlet berries in winter, must be pollinated by the male plant to produce fruit. Winterberry may spread up to 10 feet or more, depending on the variety, so plant farther apart to have space between them, or closer together to form a hedge or thicket.

Step 4

Water once a week, allowing one inch of water to soak the roots. Be sure to water over the entire root zone, which extends out at soil level to twice the diameter of the shrub's girth. Discontinue watering in autumn when all the leaves have fallen.

Step 5

Prune winterberry in the spring. Although fruit production in the first year after pruning may be reduced, future seasons will see more vigorous growth, and a healthier shrub will reward your efforts.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Male winterberry shrub
  • Female winterberry shrub


  • Native Trees and Shrubs for Maine Landscapes: Winterberry
  • Winterberry, Ilex verticillata
  • Virginia Cooperative Extension, Winterberry

Who Can Help

  • USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: care for winterberry shrubs, winterberry shrub tips, growing winterberry

About this Author

Desirae Roy began writing in 2009. After earning certification as an interpreter for the deaf, Roy earned a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Eastern Washington University. Part of her general studies included a botany course leading to a passion for the natural world.