Winterberry 'Have Some Questions'

lovefornature(5B IL)July 29, 2008

This year I made a garden bed that measures about 19 x 8. Behind this bed is a dog-eared fence only about 4-5 feet tall, so I would definately like something that would be a little higher than the fence behind it for interest.

The area only receives part sun (some in the early afternoon hours and some in the early evening), dappled here and there).

I am in Zone 5B (Illinois) and trying to incorporate interests in this small area for all seasons.

So far in the bed for spring/summer I have Coneflower (Magnus and White Swan), Raspberry Bee Balm and plan on adding Jacobs Cline for next year.

I was thinking of putting winterberry there and have some questions (well lots of questions).

Is Winterberry poisonous to animals (dogs)?

Which one should I purchase (male and female matches for berries). I would like the shrub to be about 5 feet tall or a little higher.

Is the shrub in tree form or in shrub form (like a lilac)?

This will be in my front yard so I do not want the bed to get too crowded.

Does anyone have pictures of their winterberries they can show me. (In the summer, I would really like to know what it looks like).

Do the leaves have a fall color and about what time do they drop?

How fast do they grow? I see that Bluestone Perennials has a Berry Nice and a male pollinator Jim Dandy) available for Spring 2008. Bluestone ships really small plants though.

I am also worried about my sun/shade issue too.

I know, alot to ask......Thanks everyone for your help :)

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terryr(z5a IL)

I have the straight species of lex verticillata. I bought them from Possibility Place over in Monee, IL. I love mine. They're in full sun. They require full sun and they are site specific. I don't have a picture of mine at photobucket, but they do grow slowly. They are the same size as they were when I purchased them in April of '06. These are shrubs. Fall color is yellow, nothing special. Website for PP is
Click on catalog and look around at all the plants they offer.

I like crowded, so I'm probably not a good person to answer, but I saw the question is from last week, so I did anyway âº

Viburnum dentatum is a good choice for the requirements you're describing (as do the other plants you've listed). Prairie Moon has them also. They're small, bare rooted plants, barely 18" tall, but mine has grown to over 5' in 1 year (mostly shade, north side of house). I purchased another dentatum (south side, but under a few trees) from Possibility Place for cross pollination that it might need and I'm happy report that they both are bearing berries this year. Birds love them too.

Best thing to do when you've got sun/shade issues, is to ask a lot of questions, do a lot of reading and research.

Here is a link that might be useful: Prairie Moon

    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 11:08AM
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dandirt(z8b MS)

I saw your message and question and thought I would reply. Yes, the winterberry is poisonous. Sometimes our dogs or cats will eat or chew on plants and there are many that could be harmful if ingested (to include parts, all parts, stem or berries). Some wild plants and common plants. Here's a few: Lantana, Morning Glory, Nightshade, Hemlock, Mistetoe, Yucca, Tulip, Privet, Peony, Caladium, Daffodil and Oleander. Generally speaking, many night blooming and drooping/pointing flowers are poisonous. I have yellow trumpet vine growing on a back fence, a few morning glory and Caladium plants in a small flowerbed and a couple ferns in hanging flower baskets. Fortunately, my dog does not bother them. Plus, he has a few bird friends that freely hang out in the yard. I guess the best advice is know your dog and be mindful about the playful or active pets that like to tample with things. Hope the info is helpful.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 1:43AM
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I grew this plant a long time ago. I did not plant it in full sun and it produced a good crop of berries. There is a male cultivar that stays very small. I cannot remember the cultivar name but I ordered it from prairie moon nursery I think. My soil was alkaline so I added some kind of powder that makes the soil more acidic (sorry forgot the name now but you can get it at any garden shop), removed some rock that was contributing to the alkalinity, and used pine needles for mulch.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2008 at 10:02PM
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chrsvic(z6 OH)

The male cultivar that stays small is "Jim Dandy," i think. There is a small female cultivar called "Red Sprite," they are supposed to only get around ft tall.

Winterberry to me grows kindof slow, but they apparently can get quite large with age - ive seen photos of some in books that look 12 ft tall, but they've been around awhile.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2008 at 8:40PM
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newyorkrita(z6b/7a LI NY)

Yes, you do need both the male and female. Jim Dandy is the male for Red Sprite. Since different winterberries have early, mid or late bloom times the male must be the correct one for the bloom times of your females. For instance Southern Gentleman is the one for Winter Red. I have one male Jim Dandy and 12 female Red Sprites and he takes care of them all with heavy fruit set.

Winterberries are marvelous for attracting fruit eating songbirds in winter. The birds here start eating the berries as soon as they turn red in late September and by Feb or March (depending on how cold the winter) the berries are gone.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2009 at 7:46PM
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