Ilex ‘Sparkleberry’

Common name: ‘Sparkleberry’ winterberry holly
Botanical name: Ilex ‘Sparkleberry’

Virtues: Highly adaptable to a range of growing conditions. Boasts multitude of bright red berries over a long season (fall/winter). Attracts birds.

Foliage: Deep green, turning yellow in fall.

Flowers/Fruit: Small white flowers appear in late spring. Glossy red berries are produced in fall and may remain on the plant until March. Berry production requires the presence of a male Ilex serrata, Ilex verticillata or Ilex ‘Apollo’.

Habit: Multistemmed deciduous shrub to 12 feet tall and wide.

Season: Fall and winter for berries.

Origin: Introduced by the United States National Arboretum in the 1980s. William Koser crossed Ilex serrata and Ilex verticillata and selected seedlings for adaptability to difficult growing conditions plus good fruiting.

Cultivation: Prefers moist, acidic soils but adapts to wet or drier soils, sand, loam or clay. Adapts to sun or shade but will fruit most heavily in full sun. Tolerates salt spray and air pollution. ‘Sparkleberry’ is a female plant that requires a compatible male holly planted in the vicinity for fruit set. Male Ilex serrata or verticillata or Ilex ‘Apollo’ will work. Prune in late winter before growth commences; this will encourage new flowering branches, ultimately resulting in more berries. USDA Zones 5–9.

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