Winter Interest – Berries

Winter berries are a great way to add color and interest to a winter landscape. There are quite a few shrubs which produce berries which are suitable for almost any garden.

Some berry producing plants require both a male and female plant. Hollies need a male plant nearby for pollination and berry production. Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) is another species where only the female plant produces berries when a male plant is available to pollinate it.

Most shrubs within the Holly (Ilex sp.) family have berries throughout the winter. Hollies vary greatly in size and shape. Some grow to the size of small tree sizes, while others are small shrubs which grow to only a few feet. Determine what you need for your garden a find one which will work best for you.

Bayberry shrubs are noted for their dark purple, fragrant winter berries. Their berries have a waxy coating and were used by early American settlers to make candles. The bayberry grows along the shore and is very tolerant of salt spray making it ideal for the coastal garden.

FirethornNot all berry plants need to be shrubs in the back of a garden bed. The Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea ‘Mohave’) is another berry producing shrub which is often grown on a trellis against a wall. Its orange berries stand out against an evergreen background.

Crabapple (Malus spp.), Ash (Fraxinus spp.) and Hawthorns (Crataegus spp.) are wonderful ornamental trees for the garden which provide colorful berries for winter interest. Viburnums are a berry producing deciduous shrub which is available in a number of varieties. Some, such as the arrowwood, produce dark blue berries while the American cranberry bush produces a red berry.

Some tips for keeping your berries longer through the winter include planting your berry producing trees and shrubs closer to the house where birds are unlikely to linger for a meal. Also, birds are attracted to red berries first so planting shrubs with blue, yellow or orange berries may help you keep the berries on the plants well into the winter.

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