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Ilex verticillata ‘Afterglow’ December 2017 Know What You Grow


With Christmas less than two weeks away I was thinking what plants in the landscape really make the spirits bright.  Winterberry or Ilex, is the hands down first to mind with its persistent red berries that hang on long after the fall leaf drop.  Well at least they are persistent until the birds strip them clean during the mid-winter months when other sources of food are scarce.  Looking out into the landscape to see the red berries of Ilex with a light coating of snow and a cardinal resting on the branches is a quintessential scene in Minnesota’s winter landscapes.

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BOTANICAL NAME  Ilex verticillata ‘Afterglow’

COMMON NAME  Winterberry

DESCRIPTION  Female cultivar of winterberry.  Slow growing, multi-stemmed shrub with glossy dark green leaves turn yellow-bronze in autumn.  Pollinated flowers (‘Jim Dandy’ male pollinator) give to a profuse crop of orange-red berries in fall that persist into winter. 

FAMILY Aquifoliaceae

HEIGHT  5 feet

WIDTH  6 feet

HABIT Upright

ZONES  3 to 9

EXPOSURE Full Sun to Partial Shade



COMPANION PLANTS Geranium, Microbiota, Heuchera, Sporobolus heterolepis

GROWING AND MAINTENANCE TIPS  Grow in average, well-drained soil.  Follow regular watering schedule during first year to get established.  Prune immediately after flowering to maintain size and shape.

NOTES  Berries are a good food source for birds.  ‘Afterglow’ was introduced in 1976 by Simpson Nursery.  Foundations, hedges, and low moist spots