Red Sprite Holly

Ilex verticillata 'Red Sprite'

Family: Holly

Type: Shrub

Other Common Name: Black Alder

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Red Sprite Holly, known scientifically as Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’, is a compact and vibrant winterberry holly. It is celebrated for its profusion of bright red berries that provide a striking contrast against its dark green foliage.
This female cultivar is relatively small compared to other winterberry varieties, making it an ideal choice for smaller landscapes or garden spaces. Red Sprite Holly requires a male pollinator, such as Jim Dandy Holly, to produce its signature berries.
Thriving in full sun to partial shade, Red Sprite Holly is hardy in zones 3-9. It adapts well to various soil conditions but prefers moist, well-draining acidic soil.

Needs & Preferences

Hardiness Zone: 4a-3a

Pet Friendly: Yes

Moisture Preference: Moist to wet

Sun Needs: Full sun to partial shade


Growth Rate: Slow

Average Height (feet): 4

Average Spread (feet): 4

Average Life Span (years): 40

Form: Round


Foliage Color: Green

Foliage Shape: Pointy

Bark Color: Brown

Bark Texture: Smooth

Landscaping Your Yard With Red Sprite Holly

Integrating Red Sprite Holly into your garden design adds a splash of color, especially in winter. Its bright berries are not only visually appealing but also attract birds and wildlife.
This shrub is perfect for mixed borders, foundation plantings, or as part of a naturalistic landscape. Its compact size allows it to fit into various garden styles and spaces.
Despite its ornamental appeal, Red Sprite Holly is low maintenance. It’s an excellent choice for gardeners looking for year-round interest with minimal effort.


Suitable Garden Styles

Woodland Garden

In a woodland garden, Red Sprite Holly adds a touch of vibrancy. Its tolerance for partial shade and natural growth habit make it a fitting choice for this garden style.

Rain Garden

For rain gardens, this holly's preference for moist conditions is ideal. It contributes to a thriving ecosystem in moisture-rich areas.

Wildlife Garden

In a wildlife garden, Red Sprite Holly's berries attract birds. Its role in supporting local wildlife makes it a valuable addition to such gardens.

Red Sprite Holly Landscaping Ideas

Plant it near a male pollinator like Jim Dandy Holly to ensure berry production. This pairing is not only functional but also enhances the aesthetic appeal of your garden.
Use it in small groupings or as a solitary specimen. Either way, it provides visual interest, particularly in winter with its bright berries.
Combine it with evergreens for a contrast of color and texture. The red berries stand out against the backdrop of green, providing a stunning display.

Seasonal Interest


In spring, Red Sprite Holly starts to grow new leaves, setting the stage for its later display of berries.


During summer, the plant maintains its lush, green foliage, providing a steady backdrop in the landscape.


In the fall, the bright red berries of Red Sprite Holly become prominent. The plant adds a vibrant pop of color to the autumn garden.


In winter, Red Sprite Holly stands out with its red berries against the barren landscape. The berries persist through the winter, offering visual interest and food for wildlife.

Planting Tips

Where to Plant

Red Sprite Holly should be planted in an area with full sun to partial shade. It’s best suited for spots where it can get enough light for berry production and can be paired with a male pollinator like Jim Dandy Holly.


This plant thrives in full sun to partial shade. Adequate sunlight is crucial for optimal growth and berry production, but it can also tolerate some shade.


Red Sprite Holly prefers acidic, well-draining soil. It's adaptable to various soil types but thrives in moist conditions, making it suitable for a range of landscapes.


Space Red Sprite Holly plants about 3 to 5 feet apart. This spacing allows for proper growth and ensures effective pollination from a nearby male holly.

When to Plant

The best time to plant is in the spring or early fall. Planting during these cooler temperatures helps the plant establish roots without the stress of extreme temperatures.

How to Plant

Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and twice as wide. Place the plant in the hole, backfill with soil, and water thoroughly. Ensure the plant is level with the surrounding ground.

Plant Care Tips


Regular watering is important, especially during dry spells and in the first growing season. Once established, Red Sprite Holly is quite tolerant of varying moisture conditions.


Fertilize in early spring with an acid-forming fertilizer to encourage healthy growth and berry production.


Minimal pruning is needed. If desired, prune in late winter or early spring to shape the plant or control its size.

By Season


Spring Care

In spring, apply a fresh layer of mulch and start regular watering and fertilizing as new growth appears.

Summer Care

Maintain moisture during summer, especially in dry periods. Monitor for pests and diseases, treating as necessary.

Fall Care

Reduce watering as the plant begins to go dormant. This is the season when berries are most prominent, requiring little maintenance.

Winter Care

Red Sprite Holly is hardy in winter. Ensure it's well-mulched to protect the roots in colder climates.


How Big Does Red Sprite Holly Grow?

Red Sprite Holly typically grows to about 3-5 feet in height and width, forming a compact, rounded shrub.

Is Red Sprite Holly Deer Resistant?

While no plant is completely deer-proof, Red Sprite Holly is relatively deer-resistant and less likely to be damaged compared to other shrubs.

How Far Should Red Sprite Holly Be Planted from a Male Pollinator?

Plant Red Sprite Holly within about 50 feet of a male pollinator like Jim Dandy Holly to ensure effective pollination and berry production.

Products That Feature This Plant

Shades of Evergreen

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