Berry Poppins™ Winterberry HollyIlex verticillata 'FarrowBPop' (PP# 25,835)
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Ilex verticillata 'FarrowBPop' (PP# 25,835)
Outdoor Growing zone
Full Sun, Partial Sun
When you plant the Berry Poppins® Winterberry you are sure of a heavy, heavy crop of bright red berries. Densely clustered on the bare branches, you will be amazed at their abundance, and how long they last through the winter months. This compact bush grows no more than 4 feet tall and wide, fitting well into any garden bed, or grouped in mass plantings around the garden or edging a wooded area . It is perfect along a stream or by a pond, as it loves wet ground. The glossy leaves are dark green, turning yellow in fall, and this easy bush is a ‘must have’ to brighten your winter garden.
Your Berry Poppins® Winterberry bushes will grow best in full sun, but they will be happy in partial shade too, and even in light full shade. This bush is hardy everywhere, from zone 3 to zone 9, and it grows in most garden soils that are not too dry, loving wet ground and acidic soil too. Pests and diseases are usually absent, and deer don’t generally bother with it. No special care is needed, and it shouldn’t be pruned. For a good berry crop plant a Jim Dandy Winterberry nearby, using one male for 5 Berry Poppins® Winterberry bushes.
In the excitement of spring we want to forget about winter, but it will inevitably roll around again, so why forget about it in your garden? In warm areas there are winter-blooming plants, but in colder regions the way to go is with berries. Some berry crops look great in fall, but birds soon take them, leaving a colorless garden. One of the most persistent berries, though, will often last until spring, and that is the winterberry. This native shrub looks spectacular in winter, with the bare gray branches smothered in glistening red berries. The birds won’t take them until they have been repeatedly frozen and thawed, so they remain on the bushes for months. Wild winterberries grow large – too large for most gardens – so plant breeders went to work and out popped the Berry Poppins® Winterberry. It’s a fabulous compact shrub that is easy to grow and smothered in more berries than you can imagine – you might even say it’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
The Berry Poppins Winterberry is one of the most compact winterberry varieties around, growing between 3 and 4 feet tall and wide. It grows steadily to form a dense clump of sturdy upright branches, which produce many shorter side shoots, and the smooth, gray bark is the perfect contrast to the winter berries. The leaves are glossy and dark green, about 2½ inches long and 1½ inches wide, with very tiny serrations along the edges. They turn golden yellow in fall.
After your bush has been growing in your garden for a year or two, berry production begins. After the new leaves sprout out in spring you will see blooms growing along the stems, in clusters where the leaves meet the branch. Winterberry is a species of holly, and like all holly bushes it has separate male and female plants. For berries to develop there must be a male plant around – called a pollinizer – so that insects can bring pollen from it to the female bush. We recommended the Jim Dandy Winterberry, and it is best to plant one male bush for every 5 to 10 female bushes, among the females, or within 50 feet.
If you have a suitable male bush, then those berries will develop steadily over winter, turning red just about when the leaves turn yellow. When the leaves drop, the clusters of bright red berries packed all along the branches will be revealed – this variety carries an exceptionally heavy crop. The berries are about ¼ inch across, but abundant, in clusters of 5 to 7 berries, repeated all across the bush. They last for months, looking great against the snow. Branches can be cut and brought into the house for vases or wreathes as part of your Christmas decorations.
With its compact form this is an ideal bush to plant near your house or out in the garden. It looks just as good in formal settings as it does in your beds or in natural settings. It grows well along streams, near water, edging woodland or in a garden of native plants.
The Berry Poppins Winterberry is one of the most heat and cold tolerant shrubs around. It grows happily in zone 3 and just as well in zone 9, so hot or cold, it doesn’t matter to this tough and reliable shrub.
Full sun gives the biggest berry crop on your Berry Poppins Winterberry, but it grows well in partial shade too, and even in light full shade, although there it will produce fewer berries. It grows in most ordinary soils, preferring damp and even wet ground. Add plenty of organic material when planting, and as mulch every year or two. Water regularly during dry spells, as this bush is tough, but it isn’t particularly drought resistant.
Pests and diseases are rarely a problem with the Berry Poppins Winterberry, and deer generally leave it alone, so it’s easy to grow and generally trouble-free. It’s a steady grower, but allow a few years for it to establish itself before expecting a heavy berry crop. Pruning is not needed – in fact trimming should be avoided, as it encourages new growth that won’t carry a good berry crop. Don’t let that stop you taking a few branches for a vase, though. Once your bushes are older you could remove any old branches that have weakened and stopped making berries, but really, just let your bushes mature into natural beauty.
The winterberry, Ilex verticillata, grows wild across a vast part of North America, from eastern Canada all the way into Florida, and west to Alabama and Tennessee. It is usually found in swamps, along streams, and growing in damp woodlands. Wild plants can be over 10 feet tall and spread into large thickets. Like other holly bushes all parts of this plant are mildly toxic, but pets rarely bother with it at all.
The Simpson Nursery Company, in Vincennes, Indiana, produced many varieties of winterberry, including one called ‘Red Sprite’. Growing to about 6 feet tall, it is big for today’s small gardens. So Michael Farrow, a plant breeder at Spring Meadow Nursery Inc. in Grand Haven, Michigan, got to work. In 1999 he collected a batch of seed from plants of ‘Red Sprite’ and grew them, so that he had many seedlings to study. In 2002 he selected one plant that was more compact than any of the others. After further testing he realized he had a new, more compact plant that also produced an abundant berry crop. He was granted a patent in 2015, naming his plant ‘FarrowBPop’. This is the plant released by Spring Meadow Nursery with the registered trademark name of Berry Poppins®, under their Proven Winners® brand.
You will love the dense, compact growth of this great variety, and be amazed at how many berries pop out. Don’t hesitate to order, and don’t forget to pick up at least one plant of the Jim Dandy Winterberry, to keep Ms. Poppins happy on spring evenings.