Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ilex 'Sparkleberry' for winter interest indoors and out

Horticulture magazine just posted an article on their website highlighting Ilex verticillata 'Sparkleberry', a lovely addition to brighten up the winter landscape or to bring branches indoors for decoration.  This prompted me to do a little more research since I am familiar with the evergreen hollies for our area but haven't delved into the deciduous varieties as much.  Since 'Sparkleberry' is a deciduous shrub, the red berries that persist through the winter really stand out adding a lovely red sparkle to the landscape.

There is disagreement as to which zone it grows best in.  I've seen it listed as growing in zones 3 - 8 but most of the listings show it as zones 5 - 9.  It is widely adaptable to varying soil conditions but since it is an Asian cross it prefers more moisture.  For best fruiting plant it in full sun and since this is a female variety, it needs to be paired with a male for pollination.  Ilex 'Apollo' has been bred to be used as the best male pollinator but other male hollies will work as well.

Sparkleberry may get up to 8 feet tall (it's listed as 12 but that is "valley speak", plants in Central Oregon never grow as big as listed on the tags) and wide and is a nice dark green turning yellow in autumn.

As with most hollies, the berries are a great food source for birds and will bring in a large variety of birds to feed on the shrub.  Another delightful addition to the landscape!

1 comment:

  1. Would the berries, when eaten and digested by the birds, produce Japanese or American native hollies? Is there a chance of introducing yet another invasive plant or disease this way?