Red berries in winter

Wildlife Gardening: Learn About Trees And Shrubs With Winter Berries

Birdfeeders are not the best way to help wild birds survive the winter. Planting trees and shrubs with winter berries is the better idea. Plants with berries in winter are food sources that can save the lives of many types of wild birds and small mammals. Read on for information about winter berry plants for wildlife.

Plants with Berries in Winter

Brighten your backyard in winter by installing trees and shrubs with winter berries. Small fruits add a dash of color to winter scenes and, at the same time, winter berry trees and bushes provide an annual, reliable food supply for birds and other critters, whether or not you are around.

Fruits are an extremely important source of nutrition for overwintering birds. Even birds that are insectivores in summer—like woodpeckers, thrashers, quail, robins, waxwings, mockingbirds, bluebirds, grouse and catbirds—start eating berries when cold weather arrives.

Best Winter Berry Plants for Wildlife

Any winter-fruiting plants are valuable for wildlife during the cold season. However, your best bets are native trees and shrubs with winter berries, those that naturally grow in your area in the wild. Many native winter berry trees and bushes produce astonishing amounts of fruit, and native plants require little care once they are established.

The list of native winter berry plants for wildlife starts with holly (Ilex spp.) Holly shrubs/trees are lovely, with shiny green leaves that often stay on the tree all year long plus brilliant red berries. Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) is a deciduous holly with a stunning fruit display.

Cotoneaster (Coloneaster spp.) is another of the shrubs with winter berries beloved by the birds. Cotoneaster varieties include both evergreen and deciduous species. Both types keep their berries well into winter.

Coralberry (Symphoricarpus orbiculatus) and beautyberry (Callicarpa spp.) are two other possible additions to your grouping of winter berry plants for wildlife. Coralberry produces round, red berries that pack densely along branches. Beautyberry changes the tune by producing branchfuls of purple berries.

SUPPORT WINTER WILDLIFE WITH THESE 6 BERRY-PRODUCING PLANTS

Presented by the National Association of Landscape Professionals in partnership with

Therese Ciesinski

By the time winter officially arrives, the insects, seeds and other foods that birds have been dining on have become scarce. Many of us pick up the slack by feeding the birds, and they depend on our supplemental food to get them through lean times. In addition to buying bags of birdseed, consider adding a tree or shrub to your landscape that produces berries, one of the most nutritious foods birds can eat. Berries are usually full of sugar, and some are high in fat too, meaning they’re loaded with the calories birds need to keep their body temperatures up so they don’t freeze to death.

Most shrubs and trees produce fruit of some kind. What each of these plants has in common is that the fruit hangs on and ripens in the late fall and winter, when wildlife creatures have stripped other plants bare. And these living bird feeders don’t skimp on aesthetics; they are all attractive additions to the garden.

By Paintbox Garden Shelburne

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)

A holly that loses its leaves in the fall, winterberry is loved by humans and birds alike for the brilliant red berries that light up the winter landscape. Sure, cut some branches for decoration, but leave most for the birds that rely on them. Winterberry needs a male planted nearby for the female to produce berries. Also try yaupon holly (I. vomitoria).

Origin: Native to the eastern United States
Where it will grow: Hardy from -40 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (USDA zones 3 to 9; find your zone)
Water requirement: Moist to wet soil
Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Mature size: 3 to 12 feet tall and wide
Attracts: A wide variety of birds, including cedar waxwings, scrub jays, robins — even ducks and wild turkeys

Photo by CYAN Horticulture

Northern Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)

Bayberry’s waxy gray berries are what the early-American settlers used to make candles with, so it’s no surprise that bayberry has the highest fat content of all berries. That makes it a terrific food for smaller birds, many of which shiver through the night as a way to keep warm, which requires a lot of energy. Bayberry needs male and female plants for berries. Also try Pacific wax myrtle (M. californica).

Origin: Native to eastern North America
Where it will grow: Hardy from -40 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit (zones 3 to 7)
Water requirement: Dry to medium soil
Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Mature size: 5 to 10 feet tall and wide
Attracts: Chickadees, woodpeckers, swallows, bluebirds, warblers and many others

By Benjamin Vogt / Monarch Gardens Lincoln

Southern Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum)

Whether it’s for you or your feathered friends, you won’t go wrong with a viburnum. Many provide three seasons of interest; others are fragrant. Some are evergreen. These shrubs are all terrific garden plants, and quite a few are berry-producing machines. Also try highbush cranberry (V. edule).

Origin: Native to eastern North America
Where it will grow: Hardy from -40 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (zones 3 to 8)
Water requirement: Well-drained soil
Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Mature size: 3 to 5 feet tall and wide
Attracts: All kinds of birds, including cardinals, mockingbirds, blue jays and catbirds

Photo by Paintbox Garden

Chokeberry (Aronia Arbutifolia)

This shrub is native to the U.S. and Canada, and has great fall foliage and fruit that turns bright red in the winter. It’s called chokeberry because humans find the berries extremely bitter, birds less so. Also try black chokeberry (A. melanocarpa).

Origin: Native to eastern North America
Where it will grow: Hardy from -30 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit (zones 4 to 9)
Water requirement: Needs well-drained soil
Light requirement: Full sun to partial shade
Mature size: 6 to 8 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet wide
Attracts: Grouse, cedar waxwings, thrushes, northern flickers and thrashers

Photo by Missouri Botanical Garden

(Cornus racemosa)

The dogwood family includes both trees and shrubs, and the majority of them are gardenworthy — some for flowers; others for foliage or stem colors; still others for their graceful forms. This native dogwood produces white berries that birds adore, and when the leaves fall, red stems are revealed. Also try pagoda dogwood (C. alternifolia) and redtwig dogwood (C. sericea).

Origin: Native to southeastern Canada and the northeastern United States
Where it will grow: Hardy from -30 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (zones 4 to 8)
Water requirement: Well-drained soil
Light requirement: Full to partial shade
Mature size: 10 to 15 feet tall and wide
Attracts: Bobwhites, woodpeckers, sapsuckers, cardinals, grosbeaks, tanagers

Photo by Barbara Pintozzi

Crabapples (Malus spp)

We enjoy crabapples for their pink or white flowers in the spring; birds turn to its berries last, when other berries are gone. Crabapple fruit is quite bitter and needs a good amount of freezing and thawing before it is palatable to birds. There are too many crabapple varieties to count.

Where it will grow: Hardy from -30 degrees Fahrenheit to 20 degrees Fahrenheit (zones 4 to 8)
Water requirement: Needs well-drained soil
Light requirement: Full sun
Mature size: 8 feet to 30 feet and higher, depending on variety
Attracts: Bluebirds, robins, thrushes, cardinals, grosbeaks

Unsure of which berry-producing plant to choose? Your local landscape professional can advise you on what’s the best fit for your lawn.

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Berry Heavy® Ilex verticillata
(deciduous holly)

Mr. Poppins® Ilex verticillata
(deciduous holly)

Berry Heavy Gold® Ilex verticillata
(deciduous holly)

When most people think of holly, they think of a shrub with bright red berries and glossy evergreen foliage. Holly always has glossy evergreen leaves, right? Well, not always. Ilex verticillata, commonly known as winterberry holly, is a native shrub that loses its leaves each autumn. After the leaves have turned yellow and dropped, you are left with a breathtaking view of thousands of brightly colored berries clinging to every stem. What a joy to have such color in the middle of winter!

Winterberry holly is an amazing plant with a tremendous geographical range and a very diverse genetic expression. Native populations of Ilex verticillata stretch from Nova Scotia, south to Florida and west to Missouri. It can be found growing in low grounds, moist woods, swamps and occasionally in higher, drier soils. Though it is most commonly found in moist soils, it can also be grown quite successfully in average garden soils.

This is an easy plant to grow and it has few serious insect or disease problems. As for its genetic variation, this plant can range in heights from 3 feet to 15 feet in the wild. The width of the plant is also variable. In wet sites, it can sucker to form a dense spreading thicket. In drier soil, it tends to form a tighter clump.

Winterberry holly isn’t really grown for its flowers, though it does bloom. It has very small, inconspicuous white flowers, with male flowers and female flowers found in different individual plants. In autumn, female plants develop colorful berries where those tiny flowers bloomed. Its slender branches are draped with small but plentiful berries from base to tip. The berries remain on the plant for several weeks to months through winter, as the birds tend not to be interested in them until they have softened considerably. One male winterberry holly will pollinate up to five female plants; to ensure abundant fruit set, plant the male within about 50’/15.25m of the females.

There are several types of native winterberry cultivars available at garden centers. The Berry Heavy® series of Ilex verticillata was selected for its extra-large, plentiful fruits which can be either red or gold, depending on which cultivar you choose. Mr. Poppins® is the male pollinator for this series. These are full-sized shrubs that stand 6-8 feet tall at maturity. For something in the 3-4 foot range, try the dwarf Little Goblin® series.

Why planting holly is the right thing for you and local wildlife

Peter Dowdall resolves to plant more hollies this year in a bid to protect the species and help local wildlife.

THE snowdrops and early daffodils are poking their heads through the soil as a new season beckons. While January can be depressing, with high winds, rain, and dark, dreary days, it’s also a month that makes me optimistic for what lies ahead.

Those bulbs that were planted thanklessly back in autumn are only now thinking about breaking the soil surface, and will soon provide a beautiful spring display — the winter months long forgotten.

Holly, synonymous with Christmas as a decoration, Unfortunately, at least two varieties have become extinct and several others are at risk. So, my resolution for this year is to plant holly in its many different forms, whenever and wherever possible.

I would urge all gardeners to find space for even one specimen in the garden. If you are thinking of a new hedge, or perhaps an old one has become worn out with age or through disease, then look seriously at holly as a replacement.

I can’t think of another genus that offers such diversity in species. Think not just of the straight, green holly, Ilex aquifolium — though it is a beautiful addition to the garden — with its dark-green waxy leaves, and red berries, it’s instantly recognisable during the winter. But look, too, at the many other varieties available.

Ilex crenata, similar in appearance to Buxus sempervirens (Box hedging), has enjoyed an upsurge in popularity in the last number of years, due in no small part to the prevalence of box blight, which has decimated many established box hedges throughout the UK and Ireland.

I first planted Ilex aquifolium in a mixed hedge with Fagus sylvatica (green beech), on my work experience year from college, and it is a plant combination that I instantly fell in love with, and have that same mixture planted outside my own home now. The dark green of the holly works so well with the copper brown of the beech, during the winter, that it creates a feeling of warmth in anyone who looks at it.

Most holly plants are dioecious, meaning that both male and female plants are needed to pollinate the female flowers to develop into berries. Ilex ‘JC Van Tol’ is a self-fertile variety, which produces berries freely on one plant. However, as with all self-fertile plants, I would recommend planting more than one, for a better display of berries.

‘Golden van Tol’ is a bright, variegated form. Also self-fertile, it has the added feature of leaves with a cream margin, which bring a lovely colour contrast to the garden. The van Tols are not spiny and thorny, as you would expect from a holly tree. Rather, the leaves are glossy and smooth.

I have tried Ilex verticillata several times without success. I’m not certain why they haven’t liked my garden, as I have tried them in several different locations: in damp and wet soil with full sun, which is their preferred position, and also in more well-drained positions, but to no avail.

The plants I have tried have all been Dutch imports, as I have been unable to find Irish-grown plants, and this may be the problem. It’s a deciduous species and, in full berry with no leaves during the winter, it is a sight to behold. This peculiar lack of winter foliage, and its difficulty, so far, makes me more determined to persevere with verticillata.

‘Golden King’ and ‘Silver Queen’ are both lovely, bright hollys with variegated foliage, female and male respectively. Ilex aquifolilum, the common green holly, on the other hand, has male and female plants in the same species. The way to tell the difference is by the flower shape.

The male flowers have more prominent stamens and the female have a swollen base, which will develop to become the berry. One male will be enough to satisfy up to ten females, which is socially acceptable in the plant world.

Ilex ‘Nellie Stevens’ is another classic looking holly, in that it has the glossy, spiny leaves and it is a good variety to produce berries. It is slightly different botanically and biologically, producing berries asexually, so it is a fine choice for a garden where there is only room for one specimen.

Finally, do be aware that while the berries are aesthetically attractive and important for wildlife, they are also toxic to we humans. One or two berries will lead to vomiting and diarrhoea, but a large amount of the bright berries, twenty or more, could be fatal.

5 things you didn’t know about holly

How is holly dispersed?

All five thrush species found in Britain in winter love holly berries, dispersing the stone fruit through their droppings.

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Mistle thrushes are often highly protective of their tree, noisily guarding its berries against other birds.

2

How does holly reproduce?

Holly is a diocecious plant – which means that it has separate male and female plants. Only the female plants produce berries, known as drupes.

Botanically speaking, the fruit is the hard ‘stone’ at the centre, the exocarp is the red outer skin and the mesocarp is the fleshy orange layer in between.

3

What’s the difference between male and female holly?

The male has four prominent, pollen-bearing stamens that splay out in an ‘X’ shape, seen in spring and summer, from May.

The female has a fat green ‘boss’ in the middle. This is the ovary, which forms the base of the yellowish stigma. There are also four stamens, but these don’t produce pollen. The flowering season is the same as the male.

4

What is special about holly leaves?

Holly leaves are evergreen. New low growth has more spines as it is within the browsing zone of deer – leaves that are above 2–3m are smoother-edged. Fallen holly leaves decay very slowly – look out for their paper-thin skeletons on the ground.

5

What eats holly?

Holly is a key foodplant for about 30 species of invertebrate, including the caterpillars of lovely insects such as the holly blue butterfly and privet hawkmoth.

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Main image: Holly plant, showing the red berries. © Rosie McPherson

Habitat at Home: Berry Helpful Winter Plants for Wildlife

During winter months, berries are one of the main food sources for birds and other wildlife. Growing plants that yield colorful berries while others lie dormant may provide fantastic wildlife viewing, visual interest, and enhance the biodiversity of your yard!

Many native plants in our region provide fruit during winter. They also meet the needs of local wildlife requiring less maintenance, watering, fertilizing, and insecticides than nonnative species.

Here’s our top ten list of native plants that are just as beautiful in spring as they are helpful in winter!

1. Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata)

Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery

This plant often goes unnoticed in a summer garden, but starts turning heads as soon as its leaves drop and berries ripen during autumn. Branches displaying this bright red fruit may attract mockingbirds and robins.

2. American Beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana)

These berries ripen during September and October, lasting into late fall. For many birds, it’s comparable to candy, and it’s a favorite among cardinals, mockingbirds, finches, and woodpeckers.

3. Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery

Eastern Redcedar is a dense coniferous evergreen tree and a species of juniper. Its juniper berries serve an important purpose during winter as a food source for many birds. This plant is also a pioneer species, meaning it easily adapts to a variety of environments. These hardy adaptations allow it to grow in poor soil, colonize barren landscapes, and even flourish in ecosystems disrupted by fire!

4. American Mistletoe (Phoradendron leucarpum)

People seem to get the urge to kiss when they stand beneath it. Mistletoe produces white berries during winter months. It’s also hemiparasitic, meaning it grows on the surface of a host plant for structural support, drawing its moisture and nutrients from the air and water of the host. On occasion, Mistletoe can harm a tree and cause deformities, but it will rarely kill the host. It may populate into tree canopies by distribution of its sticky berries, which birds transport via beak. This plant is difficult to start growing, but if it is already present, you might consider leaving it, as it does prove beneficial to wildlife. We don’t suggest trying to grow this plant, but if it already exists, wildlife will surely thank you! While kissing under the mistletoe is perfectly acceptable, consuming the plant or its berries is not a good idea!

5. Wax Myrtle (Morella cerifera) a.k.a. Bayberry

Elizabeth Fraser / Arlington National Cemetery

This small evergreen tree or large shrub is adaptable to a variety of habitats. Its female flowers develop into fruiting berries with a naturally shiny coating. Flowering from late winter to spring, it will bear fruit between late summer and fall. Keep in mind, this plant is observed to not recover well from persistent snowdrifts.

6. Sugarberry (Celtis laevigata) a.k.a. Hackberry

Sugarberry produces berries that turn orange-red to dark purple when ripe in early fall. Popular among robins and mockingbirds, it grows best primarily along streams and in moist soils on floodplains.

7. American Holly (Ilex opaca)

Holly berries ripen and turn red during fall and persist through winter months. They serve as a festive holiday feast for Cedar Waxwings, deer, squirrels, chipmunks, and foxes, whom will happily disperse the seeds.

8. Common Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus)

Snowberry can grow in a variety of habitats. It’s a medium to large sized shrub with white berries very much coveted by grouse, grosbeaks, robins, and thrushes during the winter months.

9. Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus) a.k.a. Buckbrush

City of Austin Watershed Protection Dept.

Coralberry is a relative of Snowberry and is part of the Honeysuckle family. Fruiting between late fall and early spring, it bears clusters of coral-pink to purple berries that remain throughout the winter. It is a great choice for a woodland garden!

10. Possumhaw (Ilex decidua) a.k.a. Deciduous Holly

Fruiting occurs between early fall and early spring. It’s often used as a winter ornamental plant for Christmas decorations due to its bright red and perfectly round berries. Unlike American Holly, it’s leaves are round and smooth without prickles. Many species of wildlife enjoy this merry and brightly colored fruit!

Planting between late fall and early spring during dormancy will sow the best results, as it allows more time to bulk up their existing root systems and take advantage of the abundant rainfall. Consider planting these colorful berries to spice up your yard while sustaining birds and other wildlife this winter!

Habitat at Home is a monthly segment dedicated to providing you with tips to make your yard and home a better habitat for native plants, animals, and insects. Written by Rachel Hess.

Tags: Habitat at Home

While spring is a time of renewal in the Cleveland landscape, fall is the opposite. Fall feels like a conclusion to the year. The brilliant landscape plant and tree colors, like the grand finale of a fireworks show or an encore in a theater production, signal a time of change in the Northern Ohio landscape; a time of closure. The fact is though, that your landscape plants can be enjoyed throughout the winter as well. There are various interesting and beautiful landscaping plants and trees that can be planted for winter interest due to their bark color, or branching structure. Attributes you perhaps would not pay as much attention to while the plant still has its leaves. Some People like to leave up ornamental grasses and certain perennials for winter landscaping interest. Well how about berries? There are many trees and shrubs that can be enjoyed well into the winter due to their colorful berries and other natural attributes. Below are five of my favorite winter landscaping plants with “Berry Interesting” eye appeal.

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) – Winterberry is a deciduous holly bush. This means that it loses its leaves in the fall unlike other hollies which are evergreen. Because it loses its leaves, you are able to really enjoy the vibrant red berries. Winterberry is dioecious as are other hollies. You need to have at least one male plant in the area to pollinate the females. If you don’t, you will not have any berries. They grow 6-10ft depending on the variety, and can grow in sun or partial shade. They are also known to be deer resistant. The berries last through winter as long as the birds don’t get to them. Some might find that an advantage though!

Beautyberry (Callicarpa) – The first time you see the berries of the beautyberry, you will do a double take. The vibrant fruit is so shockingly purple you will think they are artificial. The berries are sometimes used as a mosquito repellant and even in wine. They get a small whitish pink flower which is hardly visible through the foliage, but you don’t plant them for the flower. The fruit is well worth the wait though, just be careful not to prune them too harshly as you will lose much of the berries. Depending upon variety, the plants grows 4-6ft tall and can grow in sun to partial shade. Like the winterberry, the beautyberry is also deer resistant.

Crabapple (Malus spp.) – Unlike the first two plants on the list, the crabapple is not only a tree, but it’s also one which is enjoyed in the spring for its abundance of flowers. Not all crabapples hang on to their fruit beyond the fall. There are some however which will maintain the apple into the winter and possibly the spring if the birds don’t eat them first. Be sure when making a decision on which crabapple to plant, that you don’t just choose one for its fruit or its flower. They range in height anywhere from 13-40ft. Some are more shrub-like, but most are upright. Just do your research first. With respect to winter fruit though, there are a few which are good choices. ‘Donald Wyman, ‘Jewelcole’, ‘Wintergold’, ‘Hozam’, ‘Strawberry parfait’, and ‘Sugar Tyme’ are a few known to keep their fruit well into the winter.

Sorbhus huphensis ‘Pink Pagoda’ – The pink pagoda is a little known mountain ash which grows 20-25’ tall and 20’ wide. It has attractive bluish-green foliage and white flowers which develop into deep pink berries that usually persist into winter although they will fade to a pale pink or white.

Aultheria procumbens – Better known as wintergreen, this is an evergreen shrublet which has white urn-shaped summer flowers, followed by large bubblegum-scented red berries that often persist through winter. The glossy dark green foliage also takes on burgundy tones in the colder weather, making it a great container feature or small-scale groundcover.

The five plants I chose for this article are by no means the only options for winter berries. These are just five that I personally like, and that can do well in the Cleveland area landscape. When making choices for your own area, make sure to think about zone hardiness, light and water requirements as well as soil type.

The berry that can grow in winter

Many people stock up on summer fruits in the freezer to keep them going through the depths of winter. But the need to stockpile may be less thanks to a group of fruit growers and scientists who have come up with a way to grow raspberries well into November.

On the global edition of “Marketplace Morning Report,” the BBC’s Victoria Craig spoke to Tim Chambers, who is one of those growers. He’s managing director at WB Chambers, which supplies some of the U.K. is biggest supermarket chains.

Tim Chambers: We’re located in southeast England in the county of Kent which is the garden of England historically, this county has grown majority of fruit and veg for the U.K. We’ve been here for several hundred years.

Victoria Craig: You’re chairman of a consortium of growers looking for new varieties of soft fruits like raspberries. Tell me about these new Malling Bella and Malling Charm raspberries you’ve been working on.

Chambers: This whole process really started 20, 30 years ago, at East Malling when they were breeding raspberries for commercial growers, the genetics that they were using then, still relevant today, we have the same pests and diseases as we did for 30, 40, 50 years ago. So with East Malling and a few other large growers in Europe, we got together and we put funding in to reinvigorate their breeding program. And the first two varieties that we’ve released called Bella and Charm their primocane type raspberry. So that’s a specific type of raspberry that can crop throughout the year. They’re very good in that they can be manipulated and they can be grown right away across Europe in a number of different climatic conditions.

Craig: And what do they taste like? Do they taste like normal raspberries or do they have different characteristics?

Chambers: Like normal raspberries, raspberries a more unique flavor I think is one of the nicer berry flavors in that you can combine the acid and the sugars always give a nice bite to a raspberry.

Craig: So a longer growing season means consumers can get fresher, tastier berries later in the year. Does it also help cut down on the miles that these fruit have to travel during winter months?

Chambers: Yes, in the fact that we can now grow good quality raspberries into later in the season in the U.K., that does reduce the amount of fruit that we would have to be importing from Spain and Morocco. U.K. is one of the bigger raspberry consumers in Europe actually, despite not having a biggest population. We are a large raspberry consumer. And we’ve traditionally used Spain and latterly Morocco to complete the year the consumers like raspberries and the demand is going up year on year. So I think we still will be importing from Spain and Morocco for the foreseeable future.

Craig: So are these barriers ready for commercial sale? And if so, how much do they cost?

Chambers: We’re a price taker. So we don’t have the ability to ask a price. We have to go with what the market says. So they are in line and competitive to the rest of the market.

Craig: So they don’t cost more, in other words?

Chambers: No, they don’t cost more, no. So we’re constantly looking to make sure not that we can get more money for our product, but that we can actually reduce the costs of production.

Craig: Now we’re talking about this kind of science applied to raspberries. But what about other fruits? Are you working on any other fruit development?

Chambers: Yes, just started to look at blackberries. The consortium members are generally cane fruit growers. So blackberries are a logical step forward. And the blackberry market is currently very small, but then I think that’s because of the varieties which are available for sale at the moment. And it has good potential to grow. So we’re focusing on blackberries. But breeding is a bit like lottery tickets, you have to buy tens of thousands of them before you get a winner. So you have to breed tens of thousands of new varieties by crossing older varieties I don’t imagine we will have success immediately, but maybe three or four years time, we might have a blackberry which is capable of improving what’s available at the moment.

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Berry-producing plants for the winter season

Throughout the growing season there are many trees and shrubs that produce berries that various animals and birds love to feed upon. They include the dogwood berries, raspberries, juneberries, elderberries, chokecherries, currants and so many more. By the time autumn arrives, many of these fruits are long gone and consumed.

There are many other trees and shrubs that produce fruit, which lasts through the winter months. Items such as the mountain ash, black or red chokeberry, winterberry, highbush cranberry, cotoneaster, and the crabapple are all great landscape specimens that create fruit for the natural environment to be consumed in the winter when food is scarce.

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By planting these items in the landscape, you do not only create an appealing design, but also a natural feeding ground for many of nature’s feathered friends. Each of these plant items has its own unique characteristics that many homeowners find desirable in the garden.

The mountain ash is a medium-sized tree that has leaves with numerous leaflets to them. They form a dense habit with an oval form and a copper-colored bark for nice contrast. The most common variety planted in our region is the European mountain ash. It has white fuzzy flower clusters in the springtime and creates a fall foliage color of yellow and orange. In late summer to early fall, orange clusters of berries are produced that last throughout the winter months. As the berries go through the freeze and thaw cycle, they become tender and very desirable for birds to eat as it seems to change their flavor.

Black and red chokeberry are wonderful species also known as aronia. They are medium-sized shrubs that grow from four to eight feet in height. They have deep green leaves throughout the summer and produce clusters of white or light pink flowers in the spring. During the autumn season, they explode into intense shades of orange, red and burgundy, which set them off from so many other shrubs in the garden. When the leaves have fallen to the ground, big clusters of red or black chokeberries remain. The red are the first to go by the birds due to their sweeter flavor, but the black berries are soon to follow during the winter months for food high in vitamins and antioxidants. These berries are also great for the human consumption of jams, syrups, juices and wines.

Winterberry bushes are a hardy type of holly shrub for our region. Their leaves are small and oval and do not have the telltale shape of the sharp holly leaves you find during the Christmas season. These are large shrubs that will grow from eight to 15 feet high in time. To produce berries, you need at least one male tree and numerous female trees to pollinate the flowers. The flowers that bloom in spring are insignificant, but the red berries that are produced later in the season are the real reason these shrubs are grown. When the leaves fall during autumn, their brilliant red berries, produced by the hundreds, come into view and add that perfect touch to the winter landscape that follows. Birds love these berries during the winter and will clean through them by spring with eager delight.

The highbush cranberry, or the American cranberry bush, is another great specimen for the yard. It is not a true cranberry, but it will grow into a large shrub eight to 12 feet in height with a broad spread. They have three-lobed leaves with pointed ends and produce flat clusters of white flowers during the late spring and early summer periods. In late summer to early fall their berry clusters will turn to a bright red color similar to that of the sweet cherry. Rarely do these berries last throughout the entire winter season as the birds love their flavor and devour them within the first few months.

The cotoneaster is a small- to medium-sized shrub that takes very well to pruning to keep its shape. It will become dense in time and produces a very small pink flower in the early summer months. Eventually a small berry forms, which begins red in color and slowly matures to a deep maroon or black berry. Often these berries will remain until the following year if the birds do not completely eat them through the season. Not only is this a great landscape shrub due to its great pruning response for topiaries and unique designs in the garden, but it also produces stunning fall colors of vibrant oranges and reds to add to your landscape palette.

My favorite fruit-producing tree for winter would have to be the red splendor crabapple tree. Unlike many other crabapples that tend to drop their fruit before the leaves have fallen, this species holds tight to the fruit until late spring. It grows to become a medium-sized tree with a broad spread. In the springtime it will inspire you with its magnificent display of pink to red flowers with their sweet scent. During the summer the fruits are usually hidden from view by the maroontinted foliage. In autumn when the leaves have fallen, the berries seem to take their place. With each passing cold day, the berries seem to become brighter and brighter. Birds and deer will feed on them in the winter and if there are any left over in the spring, the flocks of migrating robins and cedar waxwings will devour the remaining within days.

If you are looking to add some landscape interest to your gardens along with feeding nature without any extra effort, these specimens along with many others are great choices to consider. Not only will you be adding a visual appeal to your yard, but you will also be encouraging the wildlife to enjoy it nearly as much as you do.

Think of the money you could save on bird food if you have some natural food for them to feed on also as a supplement. Many of these items will begin producing fruit within the first few years, so it will not take long for you to start giving back to the natural environment.

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