The Red Sprite Winterberry (Ilex Verticillata ‘Red Sprite’) Care Guide

The Red Sprite Winterberry, otherwise known as the Ilex Verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ is a pretty well known shrub plant by gardening enthusiasts around the world.

Best known for its low maintenance and slow growth, this shrub will likely liven up your house (or garden) with its green colored leaves. But, only if you learn how to take proper care of it for it to thrive.

This is why all the topics you need to know in order to achieve this will be covered in this Red Sprite Winterberry Care Guide. Ready? Let’s go!

The basic care guidelines you need to remember for your Red Sprite Winterberry are the following:

  • Water: The Red Sprite Winterberry loves moist soil but will still survive dusty soil when it is established.
  • Light: Keep your Ilex Verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ in an environment where it can receive partial to full sun on a daily basis. 
  • Soil: Make sure to keep the Red Sprite Winterberry in soil with moist but well-draining to well draining properties, so ideally, one that is made of clay, loam, chalk, and sand.

That’s it – sunlight, water and soil! The basic 3 fundamentals for all plant care, and with the Red Sprite Winterberry this is no exception. With these three elements, your leafy friend will live healthy and happy.

Red Sprite Winterberry with leaves

Scientific / Botanical Aspects

In botanical terms, the Red Sprite Winterberry belongs to the Aquifoliaceae family, and the genus Ilex, hence its scientific (or botanical) name Ilex Verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ (EYE-leks ver-tiss-ih-LAY-tuh).

Other popular Aquifoliaceae plants include species like Yaupon Holly, Possumhaw Holly, Winterberry, Hypericum Reptans, Sky Pencil Japanese Holly, Ilex Verticillata ‘Winter Gold’ and Bitter Gallberry ‘Shamrock’.

As with other Ilex’s, the Red Sprite Winterberry is a deciduous plant, which means it will shed its leaves annually once autumn comes.

Growing Region

The Red Sprite Winterberry is a plant native to the United States.

You might be wondering why your Red Sprite Winterberry’s native region is important. Well, if you know where your plant originally came from, you’ll know which environment conditions it prefers, and with it, knowledge on how to replicate it at home.

With this in mind, the Ilex Verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ will be most used to the heat zones in the 5 – 9 region, as the plant hardiness level falls between 3b, 3a, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a and the ideal climate zone is between 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17.

Growth and Size


In terms of size and growth, the Red Sprite Winterberry is a relatively slow grower, which makes things easy for any plant enthusiast.


But, how big does the Red Sprite Winterberry actually get? What should you expect in terms of size? Let’s dive right in…

The Ilex Verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ can grow up to 10′ – 15′ (3m – 4.5m) in 10′ – 15′ (3m – 4.5m) and 8′ – 10′ (240cm – 3m) in 8′ – 10′ (240cm – 3m). 

These dimensions make the Red Sprite Winterberry a relatively large shrub compared to others, so it’s best to keep this fact in mind since it will affect where you want to keep yours at home.

Also, expect it to grow in a wonderful rounded shape, which is something worthwhile to remember when making your garden landscape plans.

This is why experts recommend keeping an area of approximately 96″ – 120″ (240cm – 300cm) free so the Red Sprite Winterberry can spread to its best extent.


In terms of watering, the Red Sprite Winterberry is a fairly complicated plant to take care of.

This is mostly because it has a not so straightforward watering schedule and somewhat regular watering needs.

Specifically, most experts agree that the Ilex Verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ loves moist soil but will still survive dusty soil when it is established.

Which is why it is considered a plant with relatively average needs in terms of water. 

Red Sprite Winterberry care


As a rule of thumb, you should remember to keep your Red Sprite Winterberry in soil with moist but well-draining to well draining characteristics, as these will guarantee the right conditions for your plant to grow and thrive. 

When you consider this, this is why you should aim to choose soil that has good drainage properties to keep the right moisture levels at all times. 

But, if you want a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to watering your Red Sprite Winterberry then you should consider the famous ‘finger’ test. To perform this test, you just need to put your finger in your plant’s soil and determine if it’s moist or not. If it is, then don’t water; if it isn’t, then please do. In any case, this test will allow you to know if your Red Sprite Winterberry needs or does not need water, every time.

Soil Mix

As mentioned earlier, the Red Sprite Winterberry prefers to have soil with good drainage properties at all times, reason why you need to make the soil mix out of clay, loam, chalk, and sand.

This is why most experts agree that the Red Sprite Winterberry requires soil with high organic matter, loam (silt), and sand, which will give you the right conditions it needs.

In addition to this, expert gardeners recommend having preferably alkaline, acid or neutral soil.

Light and Exposure

In terms of light & exposure, the Red Sprite Winterberry requires partial to full sun in order for it to thrive under the right conditions. 

Most experts agree that this shrub will do well as long as you keep it in partial to full sun, and it will be able to grow properly.

Specifically, we recommend that you place your Ilex Verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ in little to partial shade (only 2-6 hours of direct sunlight a day), to full and direct sun (more 6 hours of direct sunlight per day).


Being a deciduous plant, the Red Sprite Winterberry will shed its leaves annually once autumn comes.

But, you can expect it to have its ‘prime-time’ during the spring (early, mid, late), the summer (early, mid, late), the fall, and during the winter.


You can expect your Red Sprite Winterberry to flower around the spring months from April to June (spring).

The Red Sprite Winterberry produces some beautiful white, or white flowers around this time of year.


The leaves from the Red Sprite Winterberry have a beautiful green color during most of the year.

In particular, they have a simple arrangement with a alternate organization in its leaves.

You can expect the leaves from your Ilex Verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ to be around (1-3 inches) in size.

The Red Sprite Winterberry is well known for being able to attract birds, so keep that in mind when choosing your plant, as you’ll likely end up finding one or another in your garden.

Red Sprite Winterberry fruits


Now, let’s talk garden and how your Red Sprite Winterberry will look best in it.

Most Ilex Verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ owners agree that this shrub will look great in most cottage, asian/zen contemporary, and rustic gardens of all types. 

Other owners consider that they complement well most gardens of coastal garden, city and courtyard, and in informal and cottage styles. 

In particular, the Red Sprite Winterberry’s best location within your garden is in beds and borders, and in hedges and screens, others use it for landscaping in a specimen, border, mass planting, urban garden, barrier, erosion control, firescaping/fire wise, wildlife garden, hedge, or a woodland garden.

Companion Plants

Red Sprite Winterberry’s do well with some other plants beside it. One good companion plant is the Pieris, which will pair up nicely with your leafy friend.

Others consider that a nice Rhododendron will work well too, so choose whichever you find works best for you!


And we’ve come to an end. Fortunately, that’s everything you need to know about your Red Sprite Winterberry to keep it safe and sound in your garden or home. Enjoy planting!

Martin Duran

Hey y'all! My name is Martin Duran and I am from Cali, Colombia. Since 2018 I have been learning about plants and how to take care of them. Here's is my journey... “The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.” ― John Muir

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