Japanese Winterberry


I just received my first Japanese Winterberry a few days ago. What soil mixture should I use? It is my understanding that the Winterberry likes a lot of water. The grower suggested 40% composted bark mulch, 50% pumice and 10% composted steer manure. I am using to using Boon’s mix.

Any suggest for styling? Which branches should I remove, which to use as sacrificial and which branches to wire and work on ramification?

As you can see this tree has a long way to go. Would you recommend a grow box or bonsai pot? It needs repotting big time.

Any other tips you could offer would be greatly appreciated. Any idea what the male holy would be to get berries? I can’t find a male Winterberry.

I know it has a long way to go but I really like the tree.

(Jonas Dupuich) #2

Boon mix would be a good soil for the tree. I’d likely start by bare-rooting the tree, planting it in good soil, and mostly letting it grow for a year to get it really healthy.

I might reduce the long, straight branches by about half for the time being, but likely wouldn’t do any more work than that this year.

Eventually I’d plan to remove all of the long, mostly straight branches. Once new shoots appear, I’d wire them to create new primary branches and rebuild the tree from there.

The biggest variable is what to do with the deadwood. Large scars can be tricky to heal on ilex. I’d likely try to heal as much as possible. I prefer to avoid deadwood on ilex, but it might be the easiest way to move forward with the design.

(Raymond Mack) #3

About a male - find a well stocked garden center and ask which male is needed to pollinate (it may be Apollo but you should check). I’m sure you can find something online if not in person.

Here’s an anecdote, not advice: We have McClean’s Nursery here in Central MD. I purchased a dwarf J. winterberry and asked about a pollinator. The proprietor, who specializes in Ilex, stated that the native American Holly would do the job if they were within a half of mile of my garden.It took about 4 years but this past fall brought a tree full of berries. However I will get a pollinator when it’s time for it to look pretty.

Depending on your location you may even give McCleans a call. He’ll certainly know what you need and may even be able to ship. Prices are very reasonable. Located in Towson, MD. It’s a cool place to visit if anyone lives in the area.

Best regards and THANK YOU Jonas for the wonderful resources you provide.



Thank you Ray! Very nice of you to take time for a rookie.

(Kim Di Paolo) #5

Hi - I’m new to the group. Just wondering where you purchased your Japanese Winterberry.



Took me lots of time and forums but found Chris and Lisa Kirk of Telperion Farms I believe. Very nice people. The kind that gives bonsai a good name. You might try Raymond Mack’s suggestion above. Good luck.