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Shrubs with Winter Interest

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Winterberry or Deciduous Holly

Winterberry or deciduous holly punctuates winter with its showy berry display that draws the eye, no matter where it sits in the landscape. Unlike the evergreen holly that boasts the glossy green foliage and bright red berries, winterberry sheds its leaves each autumn. Some cultivars to look for are ‘Sparkleberry’ or ‘Winter Red’.  Suggested male pollinators are ‘Apollo’ or ‘Southern Gentleman’.

Name: Ilex verticillata

Growing Conditions: full sun; moist acidic soils

Size: 3–15 feet tall

Zones: 3–9

Origin: North America

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Firethorn

Bright orange-red berries adorn this plant in winter and are its best attribute. It’s an evergreen to semi-evergreen; its leaves might turn a green-brown in fall and winter. It can be used in a hedge or espaliered against a wall or on a trellis. Hardy cultivars to look for are ‘Lalandei’, ‘Mohave’, and Yukon Belle.

 

Name: Pyracantha coccinea

Growing Conditions: partial shade to full sun; well-drained soil

Size: 3–20 feet tall; 6–15 feet wide

Zones: 5–9, depending on the cultivar

Origin: Southern Europe, Turkey

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Sky Pencil Holly

‘Sky Pencil’, a Japanese holly in a tall, narrow, columnar form, adds vertical structure to the winter garden. Both ‘Sky Pencil’ and the new Patti O fit into small spaces. Their small, tightly packed leaves look similar to boxwood foliage. Grow incontainers and let them serve as evergreen sentries at an entrance, or grow in the landscape as a single plant or in a row to define a space.

 

Name: Ilex crenata

Growing Conditions: partial to full sun

Size: 2–12 feet tall; about 1 foot wide, depending on cultivar.  Patty O, 3–4 feet; Sky Pencil, 6–8 feet tall

Zones: 5–8, depending cultivar

Origin: Japan and other areas of Asia

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