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Cut Flower
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winterberry

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BOTANICAL NAME

Ilex verticillata (EYE-leks ver-ti-si-LAH-tuh)

COMMON NAME
Winterberry

DESCRIPTION
Winterberries are popular for their reddish-orange to red berries that are clustered along multiple branches of slender stems.

VASE LIFE
Winterberries can last 10 days or longer with the proper care.

AVAILABILITY
Winterberries are available from fall through winter.

NOTABLE VARIETIES
• ‘Winter Red’ - This popular form is widely accepted as one of the best winterberries. The bright red fruit comes in profuse quantities.
• ‘Afterglow’ - Large red-orange berries mature to orange.
• ‘Cacapon’ - This heavy-fruiting varieity has true red fruit. The leaves are textured, dark green and glossy.
• ‘Red Sprite’ - A popular, award-winning form, this dwarf female clone matures at only 3 to 4 feet tall. Early blooms produce numerous, large red fruit.
• ‘Shaver’ - An early-flowering form, this plant produces red-orange fruit.
• ‘Stoplight’ (also known as ‘Hopperton’) - This is a newer selection with large, deep red fruit.
• ‘Winter Gold’ - This variety features unusual pinkish or golden-orange fruit.

PROCESSING
Winterberries are packaged like cut flowers in five- or 10-stem bunches. The l
eaves usually are not present. Cut the stems at least 1 inch from the bottom, dip or place the stems into a hydrating solution, and then place the stems into clean containers with properly prepared flower-food solution made with room-temperature water.

VASE-LIFE EXTENDERS
REFRIGERATION Winterberries should be stored in floral coolers with the temperature set at 36 F to 38 F. Lower temperatures of 32 F to 34 F can be used if the winterberries are to be kept for more than three days. Keep humidity levels high.
WATER Check water and humidity levels daily. Recut the stems and change the flower-food solution every other day.
HEAT SOURCES Keep the berries away from direct sun and any other heat sources.
TAKE CARE Rough handling causes berries to drop.
ETHYLENE SENSITIVITY Some cultivars are sensitive to the gas, which can cause berry drop. Check with your supplier to make sure your winterberries have been treated with an anti-ethylene agent at the grower level or during transportation.

DESIGN TIPS
Winterberries have many design uses. They add a beautiful touch to holiday arrangements, and their branches work well for colorful winter wreaths.

FUN FACTS
WHAT'S IN A NAME The genus name “Ilex” is from the Latin “Quercus ilex,” or “the holly oak.” “Verticillata” is Latin for “alternating,” referring to the arrangement of whorls of fruit around winterberries’ stems.
FAMILY Winterberries are members of the Aquifoliaceae family, which is almost entirely composed of the Ilex genus, commonly known as the hollies. The Ilex genus has about 400 species. Relatives include Ilex aquifolium (English holly), Ilex opaca (American holly), Ilex montana (mountain holly) and Ilex decidua (deciduous holly or Georgia holly).
DECIDUOUS Winterberry is one of the few deciduous members of the Ilex genus; most are evergreen trees and shrubs. Winterberry leaves drop off in late fall to expose the plant’s colorful berries.
ORIGINS The Ilex genus is native to North and South America and Asia.
CAUTION Although winterberry fruit is a food source for many animals, it can be toxic to people.

QUALITY CHECKLIST
BERRIES Avoid winterberries that show signs of mold or rot.

Some information provided by:
The Chain of Life Network® , www.chainoflifenetwork.org
The Holly Society of America, Inc., www.hollysocam.org
Spring Valley Roses, www.springvalleyroses.com
U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Plants Database, http://plants.usda.gov
Virginia Cooperative Extension, www.ext.vt.edu
Virginia Tech Department of Forestry, www.cnr.vt.edu

You may reach “Cut Flower of the Month” writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD, at sbfloral@aol.com or by phone at (415) 239-3140.

 

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