Spotlight on New Jersey Tea and Winterberry Holly

Fri. Dec. 6, 2019

Click below to listen to my 2 min. Garden Bite radio show: Spotlight on New Jersey Tea and Winterberry Holly

 I wanted to highlight a little native shrub that is super tolerant of some lousy conditions as well as being a butterfly and hummingbird magnet.  New Jersey Tea is also recognized for being a native bee magnet too.

The shrub is a larval host for Spring Azure, Summer Azure, Mottled Duskywing butterflies. Turkeys and quail consume seeds. New Jersey Tea is part of the buckthorn family BUT, it’s not the nasty invasive that came from across the sea!

New Jersey Tea shrub photo by Missouri Botanical Gardens

This deciduous shrub is a native to many parts of the U.S. including those of us in the Upper Midwest. It grows to about 3 ft. tall with small white flowers that occur in 2 in., branch-tip clusters. It blooms prolifically June through August.

New Jersey Tea shrub 2 photo by Missouri Botanical Gardens

It has a deep root system which makes it a great ground cover for a slope you don’t want to mow or a rocky hillside. That also means that once planted, they don’t care to be moved, so choose your site wisely. They enjoy part shade to shade. The dried leaves of this nitrogen-fixing shrub make an excellent tea that was very popular during the Revolutionary War period.

For a small shrub in sunshine, think Winterberry Holly. Proven Winners has a really cute dwarf, ‘Little Goblin Red’,  that grows to about 3 to 4 ft tall and produces large berries.

Winterberry Holly ‘Little Goblin Red’ by Proven Winners

This shrub is native to the U.S from Wisconsin eastward and also parts of eastern Minnesota. Little Goblin Red is a dwarf cultivar. It also appreciates wetter soils and clay and is hardy to zone 3. A trifecta for some!

Proven Winners says it’s great for mass plantings; hedges; cutting gardens. It can also be used in rain garden and bioswales. To produce berries, you’ll need a Little Goblin® Guy ilex, the male pollinator. One Little Goblin Guy will pollinate up to five Little Goblin Red and/or Little Goblin Orange winterberry hollies; plant within 50 ft. of one another.