Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata 'Red Sprite') in the Ilex Database

Alternative cultivar names:
'Red Sprite'

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Winterberry Holly
Give a thumbs up Black Alder

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Shrub
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun to Partial Shade
Partial or Dappled Shade
Water Preferences: Wet
Wet Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Strongly acid (5.1 – 5.5)
Moderately acid (5.6 – 6.0)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 3 -40 °C (-40 °F) to -37.2 °C (-35)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 9b
Plant Height: 3 to 4 feet (.9-1.2 m)
Plant Spread: 3 to 4 feet (.9-1.2 m)
Leaves: Deciduous
Fruit: Showy
Edible to birds
Fruiting Time: Late summer or early fall
Flowers: Blooms on old wood
Blooms on new wood
Other: Female
Flower Color: White
Flower Time: Late spring or early summer
Uses: Windbreak or Hedge
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Propagation: Other methods: Cuttings: Tip
Other: Softwood cuttings
Pollinators: Bees
Miscellaneous: Dioecious
Awards and Recognitions: Other: Holly of the Year 2010


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Posted by Newyorkrita (North Shore, Long Island, NY ) on Oct 3, 2011 5:42 PM

Red Sprite is a smaller growing variety of Winterberry shrubs that sets really large berries. Fruit sets in the fall and turns a vivid red when ripe. Fruit then stays on plants all winter on the otherwise bare branches of this deciduous holly. It looks especially striking against the white of a winter snowfall. Like most hollies, Red Spite requires a male plant to be within pollinating distance of the females which are the only ones to set berries.

The fruit is eaten by many types of backyard songbirds. In my garden the berries are especially popular with Mockingbirds.


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Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on Dec 19, 2017 4:08 PM

'Red Sprite' is commonly sold at many nurseries in the Mid-Atlantic region. It is a rounded, compact female cultivar of Common Winterberry. It is slow growing and usually gets around 5 feet high and somewhat wider in landscapes. However, I once worked in a new subdivision near Coatesville, PA, a few years around a new large house that had about 8 shrubs planted around it. Unfortunately, the landscape designer did not put a male cultivar in the landscape to pollinator the females; so that, there hardly was any fruit. That person should have put about 2 either 'Jim Dandy' or 'Apollo' in the landscape with the females. These 'Red Sprite' hollies were larger than I ever saw the cultivar and they were about 8 feet high and wider in size, so they were not really compact, though they were dense.

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Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
Late summer, ornamental berries. by conniepr27 Sep 24, 2016 5:02 PM 15
Banner for December 26, 2013 by clintbrown by clintbrown Dec 28, 2013 9:25 AM 14
Forest Farm by clintbrown Aug 12, 2013 3:51 PM 16

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