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Red Winter Berries

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January 28, 2014
In the winter months gardeners need to rely on plant features besides flowers for color interest. Homeowners can use plants that produce bright and vibrant berries to add needed color to the winter landscape. Pyracantha is a landscape plant that almost drips large numbers of orange berries that hang in heavy clusters on arching branches. The fruit clusters are prominent from the late fall all the way through to the spring season. The common name for pyracantha is firethorn, and it certainly lives up to this name with the sharp thorns on almost all of the branches. Savannah holly is a hybrid of our native American holly. The leaf margins have soft spines of varying numbers on each leaf that are representative of the American holly parentage, but the berries are a real show stopper from November through March. The tight clusters of berries are formed towards the ends of the branches. Each berry is ¼" in diameter and their color is reminiscent of fluorescent red. Savannah holly are slow growing and can actually grow into a small tree; however they tolerate pruning very well to maintain a specific size and structure. Another landscape plant with attractive berries is nandina. This plant has foliage which is tropical and exotic looking due to the leaves being compound and bisected three ways. Cold temperatures can turn the foliage color from green to burgundy. In the fall and winter the berries of nandina are the main event. The stems start upright and begin to arch under the weight of the hefty clusters of berries. While all three of these plants, produce beautiful red berries, they are actually three distinct species. I'm horticulturist Gary Bachman for Southern Gardening.

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