Virtues: Little Goblin winterberry holly offers the vivid berries of this favorite deciduous holly, but on a compact shrub that fits small spaces much better than other winterberry varieties. There’s a red-berried Little Goblin and one with orange berries for a little something different.
Common name: Little Goblin Red (shown) and Little Goblin Orange winterberry holly
Botanical name:Ilex verticillata ‘NCIv1’ (Red); I. v. ’NCIV2’ (Orange)
Flowers/Fruit: Small white flowers appear in spring. In fall, bright berries develop, turing deep red or bright orange, depending on the variety. Winterberry holly berries persist well into the winter, after the leaves of the shrub have fallen. Birds will eat them, but only after weeks of cold weather has softened them.
Foliage: Like other varieties, Little Goblin winterberry holly is a deciduous shrub with medium green leaves. Winterberry foliage does not have the sharp teeth of some other hollies.
Habit: This small winterberry grows to just 3 to 4 feet tall and wide.
Origins: Little Goblin winterberry hollies are selections of Ilex verticillata, a holly species native to roughly the eastern half of North America, where it can be found growing on stream banks, swamps and lake or pond edges. Little Goblin winterberries are recent introductions from Proven Winners.
Season: Fall and winter, for berries.
Exposure: Full to part sun.
How to grow Little Goblin winterberry holly: Site these hollies in full or part sun. Winterberry holly tolerates wet or dry soil and it is recommended for bog or rain gardens. It will do fine with average moisture, too. Little Goblin’s small size means pruning should be unnecessary. USDA Zones 3–9.
Note: To ensure fruit set, you must plant a male and a female winterberry. Both Little Goblin Red and Little Goblin Orange are female winterberries that require a male pollinator. The variety Little Goblin Guy is a good male shrub for these because it blooms at the same time. Plant male and female winterberries within 50 feet of each other for heavy fruit set.
Image courtesy of Proven Winners.