Grow Now: Winterberry Holly – Ilex verticillata

After a long weekend snowboarding in Vermont, I came home to a pleasant surprise.

rooting winterberry stems from christmas decorations

My Christmas decorations came alive!

This year, I bought large bunches of winterberry holly (Ilex verticillata – no idea what variety) and put it in simple arrangements with variegated boxwood in vases all around my house.   There was water in the bottom of each vessel, mostly to fend off quickly crisping box leaves that I don’t want my to cats to catch wind of (a certain mess).   I had weakly hoped that the water might also keep the berries plump but that didn’t work out.  But what has worked is that roughly 25% of the stems have leaves now!  I estimate my inadvertent propagating I will reward me with at least three of four new shrubs!  I have created the beginnings of a hedge in my own kitchen while thinking I was spreading holiday cheer.

Are any of your holiday decorations showing signs of life?

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rochelle greayer

Hi, I'm Rochelle and for 18 years I have worked as a landscape designer, author/writer, and design teacher. I've designed residential and hospitality (for hotels, restaurants, and spas) gardens across the USA and in the UK, Europe and the Middle East. After many years of teaching garden design topics in person, I launched the PITH + VIGOR Boot Camp series in early 2018. Through my blog, social media, and online courses (Garden Design Bootcamp and Planting Design Boot Camp) I aim to help homeowners learn how to confidently design and create home gardens that reflect their own personal and unique style.
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  1. Andrew on January 4, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    I’ve had good luck with dogwood rooting in my outdoor arrangements after a winter/spring stuck in wet soil.

  2. rochelle on January 4, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Andrew – I will have to try dogwood too….I am so excited about my free winterberry — there are a few of my variegated boxwood that have not gone crispy and I am wondering if I leave them long enough if they will root too? (we will see) . I have had this happen before with forsythia — but at the moment…it is the last thing I wish to propagate more of for my garden.

  3. Susan on January 4, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    How nice for you! I love Winterberry Holly. Years ago (many!) I was working at a nursery. It was Fall, and in the distance I saw this bright red splash of color. As you have guessed I am sure, it was the berries of this lovely Holly. Now I need to find some to follow in your footsteps!

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