Red Berries are particularly useful when they persist long enough to brighten the dark days of last fall and winter. Hollies are among the best ornamental plants that produce bright red berries. The American holly, English holly, and Winterberry are three outstanding hollies that produce red berries well into the winter. The American and English hollies are extremely popular for Christmas decorations because of their evergreen foliage and red berries.
English holly is best suited to southern areas as it is not extremely cold hardy. American holly is reliably cold hardy, but its foliage is not as attractive as that of the English holly. New varieties are constantly being developed and selected to combine the good qualities of both. A winter-hardy holly with attractive evergreen foliage has been introduced under the names of Blue Boy and Blue Girl. Both must be planted for berry formation since hollies have sexes on separate plants. A larger plant, the Foster holly, is also a prolific producer of bright red berries.
Winterberry is a holly without evergreen leaves. It is an outstanding ornamental plant after the foliage drops when masses of bright red berries are exposed. These berries remain on the plant until late winter when they are eaten by the birds. Several viburnums might also be selected for red fall and winter berries. The American cranberry bush, the European cranberry bush, and the Wright viburnum produce vivid red berries. These viburnums also have attractive flowers and good fall leaf color to make them interesting at all seasons.
Bright red berries are also produced by several cotoneasters. The Cranberry cotoneaster is outstanding. Berries are fairly large, showy, and last well into the winter. It is a rather low-growing plant reaching about 3 to 4 feet. Most birds, however, do not seem greatly attached to cotoneaster fruits. In southern areas, where it is not injured by the winters, the Nandina, or Heavenly bamboo, produces masses of bright red berries. Since it is not reliably cold hardy, it seldom fruits in more northern areas, although the plant may seem to grow well.
Red fruits are also to be found on many other plants. The Japanese barberry adds small, but bright red berries to the landscape. Some roses produce abundant red fruit. Hawthorne, dogwood, honeysuckle and euonymus also produce red fruits. There are many shades of red fruit. Orange-red is found in the pyracantha and mountain ash. Many flowering crabs produce fruits in the red-purple range. October is a good time to watch for showy fruit. By carefully observing plants in various landscape situations, you can better decide which of them will give the most satisfaction in your own landscape.