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American Wintergreen is known by many names. Botanically it is called Gaultheria procumbens.
It is also called eastern teaberry, checkberry, boxberry, checkerberry, creeping wintergreen, deerberry, spiceberry, mountain tea, ground berry, and the list goes on. With so many names you know this pretty little Christmas decoration is actually a native plant.
Wintergreen is an evergreen ground cover with pretty white (and hints of pink) bell shaped flowers in June and July. The berries, often called teaberries, arrive soon after the flowers fade and persist through winter. The shiny evergreen leaves and red berries from fall through winter make this plant excellent for living Christmas decor. The American Wintergreen looks lovely as a tabletop centerpiece. You can even trim off sprigs to decorate a wreath or add to a floral arrangement. Plant it outdoors after the holidays and enjoy this plant in your landscape. Use it for holiday decoration cuttings for years to come!
- Great Christmas gift. This gift adds beauty and warmth to the recipients home. The added bonus is that this United States native plant can be planted in the ground after the holidays and enjoyed for years to come.
- Holiday decor and more. Enjoy living Christmas decor with the American Wintergreen. This small holly-like plant (without the prickly holly leaves) looks lovely throughout your home. With shiny deep green leaves year-round and pretty red berries that persist for almost half the year, this plant looks gorgeous all year long! Did I mention the gorgeous little white bell shaped blooms in late spring and summer? Oh, and the aromatic leaves smell like mint!
- Shade-loving groundcover. American Wintergreen grows in shady spots in the landscape. It looks lovely in mass under shade trees.
- Easy to grow. Native plants tend to be easier to establish and grow and this plant is no exception. Creeping Wintergreen is low maintenance indoors and outdoors. Just plant and water!
- Edible. The leaves of the Checkerberry can be used to make tea. The teaberries are edible and have a lightly sweet wintergreen flavor. There is teaberry ice cream and chewing gum. You can even make teaberry wine!
Pro Tips: While American Wintergreen can grow in full shade, it needs some light to produce flowers and berries. As long as it gets some filtered light it will be just fine, but heavy shade where there is absolutely no sun may result in a lack of blooms and berries.
If you brought a Wintergreen plant home as holiday decor, don’t worry, the berries will remain on the plant throughout the holiday season regardless of the light it receives. Move it outdoors or in a spot with a bit more natural light in spring to help it produce the flowers that become the lovely red berries you like in your live Christmas decorations!
How to Care
Plant American Wintergreen in part sun to full shade and well-drained, moist soil for best results. Once established this plant is drought tolerant, but does enjoy a deep watering once weekly in climates with hot summers. Add a 2 inch layer of mulch after planting to help the soil retain water and reduce watering needs. Feed in spring with a balanced slow release fertilizer.
Indoor and potted Wintergreen Boxberry plants should be watered regularly. When the soil dries down to about an inch water again. Provide some natural light as spring approaches to encourage blooming.
This plant can be grown indoors for the holidays and moved outdoors and planted in the ground in growing zones 3 to 8. Snip off pieces to use for Christmas decor the following year!
American Wintergreen or Checkberry is a lovely evergreen ground cover that enjoys shady spots. This pretty plant is lovely in mass plantings under trees. Creeping Wintergreen works will for filling in shady spots in the landscape where grass doesn’t want to grow. It can even be planted on hills and slopes to help control erosion.
Wintergreen is perfect in pots. This plant shines all by itself or contrasting and complementing other plants in a mixed container. You don’t even need a sunny window to enjoy this plant inside. It is a low light houseplant. American Wintergreen plant makes a lovely and unique holiday decoration. Our Holiday Juniper is also a great choice.
*Comes In 1 Gal. SizeBrowse our Tabletop Christmas Tree collection for more holiday gift and live Christmas decor options! Check out our Ground Cover Plants for more low growing options.