How to Prune Common Winterberry


Winterberries (Ilex verticillata) are native to most of the United States. They are deciduous shrub-type hollies with red berries in the winter that may persist until January or February. They have drooping forms that grow 6 to 10 feet tall and 5 to 10 feet wide. Winterberries prefer full sun but will grow in partial shade. The soil should be slightly acidic with organic material mixed in. They will grow in well drained or boggy soils.

Step 1

Buy a winterberry plant from a trustworthy nursery--either locally or online. Choose one with no signs of insect or disease damage and no signs of stress caused by under watering or being rootbound.

Step 2

Use a water hose to water the winterberry in its pot, and set it in a shady location.

Step 3

Decide where you want to plant the winterberry. Use a shovel to dig a hole twice as big around as the pot, and as deep as the soil is in the pot.

Step 4

Remove the plant from the pot, and straighten any twisted roots. Use hand pruners to cut off any damaged roots.

Step 5

Set the plant in the ground, and push the soil back into the hole with a shovel or your hand, pressing down to firm the soil around the roots of the plant. Do not mound the soil on the trunk of the plant higher than it was in the pot.

Step 6

Spread a layer of mulch 2 to 3 inches thick around the plant. Do not mound it up on the trunk of the shrub.

Step 7

Use a water hose to water the winterberry thoroughly.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not use a fertilizer with high levels of nitrogen, which will inhibit flowering and fruiting. The leaves and berries of Winterberry are poisonous if eaten.

Things You'll Need

  • Water hose
  • Shovel
  • Hand pruners


  • University of Rhode Island Extenaion

Who Can Help

  • Winterberry Holly
Keywords: winterberry, plant winterberry, winterberry holly, plant winterberry holly, Ilex vertivillata

About this Author

Melody Lee worked as a newspaper reporter, copywriter and editor for 5 years. In addition, she has edited magazine articles and books. Lee holds a degree in landscape design and is a Florida master gardener. She has more than 25 years of gardening experience, which includes working at nurseries and greenhouses.