Ilex verticillata 'Sunsplash'

Ilex verticillata 'Sunsplash'

Photo/Illustration: 
Pat Breen
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(Ilex verticillata 'Sunsplash')
Genus:  Ilex
The one thing that I always thought would make winterberry a more interesting plant is better foliage. What the plant does have are vibrant red berries in fall and winter, so most of us forgive its unremarkable appearance during the other six months of the year. The cultivar ‘Sunsplash’, however, lets you have your cake and eat it, too. It’s beautiful not only when it’s fruiting but also during the rest of the year, when its bright gold, white, and green foliage shines brightly. Unlike many other variegated plants that just have coloring around the margins of their leaves, the foliage of ‘Sunsplash’, as its name implies, is literally splashed all over with color.

Noteworthy Characteristics: 

Once the plant is pollinated in spring, the green berries of late summer mature to their full size and begin their transformation. They eventually turn a brilliant orange-red and show off for as long as the birds will allow. Lucky for us, winged visitors tend to eat the fairly hard berries of ‘Sunsplash’ last, opting to eat softer fruits first. The leaves turn a yellowish bronze in autumn, which makes the berries even more prominent.

 

Care: 

Like all winter­berries, ‘Sunsplash’ needs a male plant nearby to pollinate it to produce fruit. I recommend planting the cultivar ‘Jim Dandy’ (Ilex verticillata ‘Jim Dandy’, Zones 3–9) in close proximity. You’ll only need one male to pollinate an entire grouping of ‘Sunsplash’, as long as there are some insect pollinators to assist.

 

- Chip Gill is a landscape designer at Weston Nurseries in Hopkinton, Massachusetts. From Fine Gardening issue #147, Like it / love it

Overview

Height
4 to 7 ft.
Spread
4 to 7 ft.
Growth Habit
Spreads
Growth Pace
Moderate Grower
Light
Full Sun to Part Shade
Moisture
Acidic, well-drained soil
Maintenance
Low
Characteristics
Showy Foliage,
Showy Fruit
Bloom Time
Fall,
Winter
Foliage Color
Variegated Foliage
Type
Shrubs

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