Ilex verticillata

Winterberry Holly


Out of Stock

3 Pack
Out of Stock

Winterberry is a deciduous holly that is notable for its bright red berries that hang on well into winter. Besides adding color to the landscape, the berries are fed upon by many different types of birds in the winter when food can be scarce. It is a medium to large shrub typically reaching 6 to 10 feet tall, occasionally larger. It spreads slowly by root suckering.

Winterberry Holly prefers full sun to part shade and mesic to wet soils. It is a great plant for lake, pond or marsh edges. It also grows in swamps and at the edges of upland forests where the water table approaches the surface. In the home landscape it can be maintained in mesic, loamy soils as well as wet sites.

Also commonly referred to as Canada Holly, Northern Holly, Swamp Holly or Michigan Holly.

This species is typically dioecious meaning male and female flowers are present on separate plants. Occasionally, male and female flowers may be present on the same plant. 
Our plants are UNSEXED - 'Unsexed' means the plants are not old enough to show male or female characteristics. A plant with male flowers is needed within 50 feet of a plant with female flowers for pollination and berry development, so be sure to place your plants within this range of each other.

Live Plant Shipping Table

Spring Fall Age/Size
Potted 3-PacksN/A August/September 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep pots

Ilex verticillata - Winterberry Holly

Map Key

Present in state
Present but introduced in county
Present and native in county; not rare
Not present in state
Present and native in county; rare
Species extirpated (historic)
State or county listed as noxious
Present in state; exotic

This map shows the native and introduced (adventive) range of this species. Given appropriate habitat and climate, native plants can be grown outside their range.

3 Questions asked on Ilex verticillata

I recently received from you my 3-pack order of Winterberry Holly. They are looking fabulous! I imagine it will take a couple years before they flower to know if one of the plants is a male. Is that correct?
Hi Patty. Plants run on their own timelines, so it's hard to pinpoint - but many species will bloom within 3-5 years. Sounds like your Winterberry Holly are loving their site, so they may bloom earlier than that timeframe. If you want to give these plants an extra boost, you could continue watering them next summer and maybe even apply some soil acidifier to encourage them.
What is mesic soil? Can winterberry do well in clay soil?
Hello Sarah, Mesic soil is soil that maintains a well-balanced amount of moisture. It does not over-saturate because it drains well, but does not really dry out either. Winterberry Holly can be planted in clay.
Do both the male and female plants fruit? Or is it just female?
Hello Debby, Good question. Yes, only female Ilex verticillata plants produce berries. Ilex verticillata is also known as winterberry holly, and it's a dioecious plant, meaning it has both male and female plants. Only the fertilized flowers on the female plants produce berries. One male winterberry plant can pollinate 6–10 female plants, so you'll need both male and female plants to get berries.


Growing your own plants from seed is the most economical way to add natives to your home. Before you get started, one of the most important things to know about the seeds of wild plants is that many have built-in dormancy mechanisms that prevent the seed from germinating. In nature, this prevents a population of plants from germinating all at once, before killing frosts, or in times of drought. To propagate native plants, a gardener must break this dormancy before seed will grow.

Each species is different, so be sure to check the GERMINATION CODE listed on the website, in the catalog, or on your seed packet. Then, follow the GERMINATION INSTRUCTIONS prior to planting. Some species don't need any pre-treatment to germinate, but some species have dormancy mechanisms that must be broken before the seed will germinate. Some dormancy can be broken in a few minutes, but some species take months or even years.

Seed dormancy can be broken artificially by prolonged refrigeration of damp seed in the process of cold/moist STRATIFICATION. A less complicated approach is to let nature handle the stratifying through a dormant seeding, sowing seeds on the surface of a weed-free site in late fall or winter. Tucked safely beneath the snow, seeds will be conditioned by weathering to make germination possible in subsequent growing seasons.

To learn more, read our BLOG: How to Germinate Native Seeds

Dormant Bare Root Plants

We dig plants when they are dormant from our outdoor beds and ship them April-May and October. Some species go dormant in the summer and we can ship them July/August. We are among the few still employing this production method, which is labor intensive but plant-friendly. They arrive to you dormant, with little to no top-growth (bare-root), packed in peat moss. They should be planted as soon as possible. Unlike greenhouse-grown plants, bare-root plants can be planted during cold weather or anytime the soil is not frozen. A root photo is included with each species to illustrate the optimal depth and orientation. Planting instructions/care are also included with each order.

Download: Installing Your Bare-Root Plants

Potted Plants

3-packs and trays of 32, 38, or 50 plants leave our Midwest greenhouses based on species readiness (being well-rooted for transit) and order date; Spring shipping is typically early May through June, and Fall shipping is mid-August through September. Potted 3-packs and trays of 38 plugs are started from seed in the winter so are typically 3-4 months old when they ship. Trays of 32/50 plugs are usually overwintered so are 1 year old. Plant tray cells are approximately 2” wide x 5” deep in the trays of 38 and 50, and 2.5" wide x 3.5" deep in the 3-packs and trays of 32; ideal for deep-rooted natives. Full-color tags and planting & care instructions are included with each order.

Download: Planting and Care of Potted Plants

*PLEASE NOTE: we are a mail order nursery and have no retail facilities, but you may pick up your order if prior arrangements are made. Pick up orders are subject to **MN Sales Tax.

US Shipping & Handling Charges

SEED $100.00 and under: $5.00
Retail SEED orders over $100.00 ship free!

Custom seed mixes or discounted seed sales over $100, add 5% of the total seed cost
(for orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required)

BARE ROOT and POTTED PLANTS $50.00 and under: $9.00
over $50.00: 18% of the total plant cost. (For orders over $1,000 a package signature may be required.)

TOOLS and BOOKS have the shipping fee included in the cost of the product (within the contiguous US).

**We are required to collect state sales tax in certain states. Your state's eligibility and % will be calculated at checkout. MN State Sales Tax of 7.375% is applied for orders picked up at our MN location. Shipping & handling charges are also subject to the sales tax.

Shipping Season

SEED, TOOLS and BOOKS are sent year-round. Most orders ship within 1-3 business days.

BARE ROOT PLANTS are shipped during optimal transplanting time: Spring (April-May) and Fall (Oct). Some ephemeral species are also available for summer shipping. Since our plants are field-grown, Nature sets the schedule each year as to when our season will begin and end. We fill all orders, on a first-come, first-serve basis, to the best of our ability depending on weather conditions beyond our control.

POTTED PLANTS (Trays of 32/38/50 plugs and 3-packs) typically begin shipping early May and go into June; shipping time is heavily dependent on all the species in your order being well-rooted. If winter-spring greenhouse growing conditions are favorable and all species are well-rooted at once, then we ship by order date (first come, first serve). We are a Midwest greenhouse, and due to the challenges of getting all the species in the Mix & Match and Pre-Designed Garden Kits transit-ready at the same time, we typically can't ship before early May. Earlier shipment requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

*We are unable to ship PLANTS (bare root or potted) outside the contiguous US or to CALIFORNIA due to regulations.


We ship using USPS, UPS and Spee Dee. UPS and Spee Dee are often used for expediting plant orders; they will not deliver to Post Office Box numbers, so please also include your street address if ordering plants. We send tracking numbers to your email address so please include it when you order.



Germination Code
Life Cycle
Sun Exposure
Full, Partial, Shade
Soil Moisture
Wet, Medium-Wet, Medium
up to 10 feet
Bloom Time
June, July
Bloom Color
Bird Favorite: seeds, insects, fruit, nectar, nesting, perch
Highly recommended for home landscaping
USDA Zones
Plant Spacing
Catalog Code