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Add a Burst of Color to Your February Garden with a Native Shrub: Coralberry

The shrub for deep winter.

native straigth species coralberry with deep pink berries in February
Coralberry in a Nearby Alley in February

Until recently, a February stroll in our small corner garden looking for color meant searching for red berries on American hollies and winterberries and blue fruits on female Eastern red cedars. I was not thinking pink.

native coralberry shrub with berries in small urban garden
Coralberry in December

And there they were. Coralberry shrubs with bright deep pink berries. In a blink, February gardens seen in an entirely new light!


Coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus), a deciduous shrub, thrives in full to part sun. It tolerates a variety of soils and moisture levels and grows 2 to 4 feet high and 3 to 6 feet wide at maturity. This is a wispy shrub with small leaves. It shines when all else is dormant.

There is also a cultivar called 'Proud Berry® Coralberry.' I first saw the cultivar at Herring Run Nursery back in 2019 and was mesmerized. Think light pink berries the size of blueberries. They are spectacular and unusual in fall. The downside is these berries don't persist through the winter as berries of the straight species do.

The foliage of the cultivar is bluish in tone and leaves are a bit larger than straight species shrubs. Both shrubs grow in similar conditions.

close-up of native coralberries in winter

Garden Design

To me, these shrubs are really fall and winter plants. I planted two Proud Berry® Coralberry from Herring Run Nursery in part shade and later moved them to full sun locations. Once they were moved to full sun, they produced a lot more berries. Not soon after that, I learned about the straight species and found two shrubs at Kollar Nursery. I planted two quart sized straight species coralberries in the same area. In their fourth year, they are still small but producing lots of berries.

These are not shrubs to feature for summer. The ideal situation would be mixing them in among deciduous perennials or shrubs so they are not too noticeable during the summer. Come fall, when surrounding plants lose their leaves, the berries will bring their bling. If you plant the straight species, come February, you will have color!


Coralberries bloom on new wood. Experts recommend pruning Proud Berry® Coralberry by half in late winter to remove spindly growth and encourage growth from the thicker stems. This video demonstrates. I had been doing the same to my straight species native shrubs. Though seeing the graceful arching structure of the coralberry in the alley which is, I am guessing, not being pruned, I am going to prune one this year and leave one as is and see what kind of difference it makes.


Bona Terra Nursery currently shows straight species shrubs in their inventory. Kollar Nursery and Izel Plants inventories show they carry them but are currently out of stock. The cultivar is available at garden centers and on-line.

winter native plant flower arrangement with Coralberry, Eastern Red Cedar & Heuchera "Autumn Bride'
Coralberry, Eastern Red Cedar & Heuchera "Autumn Bride'


Winter color in February! Why not!


We want you to be as excited about planting Chesapeake natives as we are. “Plant This or That” gives you a native alternative to popular plants. Other posts highlight really fabulous fauna native to the Chesapeake.

Nuts for Natives, avid gardener, Baltimore City admirer, Chesapeake Bay Watershed restoration enthusiast, and public service fan.

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