9 Berries to Brighten Up Your Winter Garden

Holly berries

4. Holly (Ilex sp.)

With some types hardy in cold Northern U.S. climates, hollies are a staple of the evergreen garden. The hundreds of varieties offer shapes and sizes to fit any landscape with berries ranging in color from white to yellow to red. The Winterberry variety (Ilex verticillata) is an unusual holly that loses its leaves in the winter, adding some drama to the berry display.

See our article on How to Grow Holly for information about selecting and growing these versatile plants.

Some varieties hardy to zone 4.

5. Ligustrum/Privet (Ligustrum sp.)

With blue-black berry-like fruits called “drupes,” many varieties of Ligustrum offer both greenery and color in the winter landscape. They are easily sheared into hedges and make great foundation shrubs.

Some varieties hardy to zone 5.

6. Nandina (Nandina sp.)

One of the easiest of all garden shrubs to grow, Nandina is also known as “Heavenly Bamboo” because of its bamboo-like, caned growth habit. Nandina makes a great vase-shaped backdrop peeking up behind smaller shrubs, with lacy foliage and sprays of red berries in fall and winter.

The berries are perfect for holiday cuttings. Nandina is drought-tolerant with dwarf varieties available, including the fall-red foliage of ‘Firepower.’

Hardy to zone 6b.

7. Photinia, Chinese (Photinia serrulata)

With a little pruning, this rounded shrub can take the form of a small tree, laden with clusters of white blooms in spring which give way to masses of tiny red berries in the fall and winter. Chinese Photinia is a hardier, disease-resistant alternative to the familiar Fraser or Red-Tip Photinia (Photinia x fraseri).

Hardy to zone 7.


  1. Do not buy a Pyracantha. It grows like crazy and the THORNS!!! I just cut this out of my back yard and now I have piles of branches that I can’t move. I’m going to have to burn them in my back yard because the thorns will go through shoes/jeans/gloves and cause extreme pain almost like a bee sting.

  2. Pyracantha does have some humongous, tough thorns! As I was photographing pyracantha for this article, I was surprised to see my neighbor’s dog happily munching the berries, oblivious to the thorns – I still haven’t figured that one out.

  3. I have a large Nandina bush near my kitchen window. I like it, but my friend said it will grow into my sink plumbing. Is this a bad idea to keep the Nandina?


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