Christmas berry or toyon is a large evergreen shrub producing a plethora of dark red berries. Toyon berries ripen in the cool months of winter. They add brilliant red color to a drab winter garden and can be picked to make garlands and wreaths for the Holidays.
Toyon is a great shrub for attracting California native birds. Many different kinds of birds rely on its berries in winter, when other food is limited. California Thrasher and California Towhees, as well as many other birds that stay where winters are mild, can usually be found feasting on the berries. Its dense branches and thick green leaves also make a great place for birds to nest and take cover from predators.
Because toyon is fast-growing and forms a dense shrub, it's excellent for creating a privacy screen. In most areas of California, it needs no water after it's established You can plant it in areas that are difficult to irrigate, such as a boundary fence along a road or a dry slope above a house. Toyon is amenable to pruning, and is quite happy growing under oaks. It thrives where many other screen shrubs don't grow.
Just plant toyon in the ground in the natural soil, mulch heavily with redwood bark, oak leaf litter mulch, or Scotts® Nature Scapes® mulch, and water until established. To be on the safe side, this usually means watering through the second summer. Toyon can be planted in many soil types, from heavy mucky clay to beach sand. Just mulch mulch mulch! If desired, you can amend your soil with Miracle-Gro® Garden Soil for Trees and Shrubs. In sandier soils it may need more water. Toyon is happiest when grown where winter and spring rainfalls average about 20 inches a year. If you plan to plant it where the rainfall is regularly less, be prepared to give it some supplemental water.