Q&A: Mating Hollies

Follow this advice to determine if your holly is male or female.
Related To:

Q: I'm told that you need to have a male and a female holly in order to get berries. How do I determine if I have one of each? And two years ago I bought a holly that was supposed to be berry-producing but so far it hasn't produced any. What's up?

gby1407_seg3_yellowberryholly

gby1407_seg3_yellowberryholly

A: It's true — for most hollies, there are males and females and you need one of each in order for the female to produce berries. Unfortunately, you can't tell by looking at the plants whether they are male or female. You can make the determination by dissecting the flowers, but even this is difficult because the flowers are so small.

Nursery-grown hollies begin from cuttings of a positively-identified holly variety. The cuttings are labeled either male or female based upon the gender of the parent plant.

It's possible to graft either a male or female branch onto an existing holly to produce berries, but you can't change the gender of a bush or a cutting. If you want to have only one holly, you could either purchase one of these special grafted hollies or one of the naturally self-fertile types such as the Burford holly (Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii').

Often a lone female holly will be successful in bearing fruit, thanks to one of the "wild-card" hollies, such as American holly (Ilex opaca), that are able to pollinate a number of different varieties. If you're pretty sure you have a female and you haven't seen any berries, consider planting a 'Jersey Knight' American holly (a male). There's obviously no guarantee, but on the upside, you'll be adding great cover for the birds and getting a good landscape plant.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Q+A With Kitchen Crasher Alison Victoria

DIY Network’s Kitchen Crashers host Alison Victoria answers your decorating and remodeling questions in HGTV Magazine .

Q&A: Tomatoes That Fail to Ripen

Identify the cause for sunken spots on tomatoes and how to treat the problem.

Q&A: Potted Orange Tree Sheds Fruit

Find out why the fruit may be falling off early.

Q&A: When Is It Too Late to Plant Bulbs?

If you miss the optimum planting time for spring-flowering bulbs, go ahead and plant them anyway.

Talk to a Toolman: Q&A With Chip Wade of Elbow Room

Should you hire a pro or tackle that home repair yourself? Elbow Room ’s Chip Wade weighs in on five common questions for HGTV Magazine .

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

On TV

Good Bones

6:30am | 5:30c

Income Property

7:30am | 6:30c

Log Cabin Living

10:30am | 9:30c

Log Cabin Living

11:30am | 10:30c

Fixer Upper

12pm | 11c

Fixer Upper

1pm | 12c

Fixer Upper

2pm | 1c

Fixer Upper

3pm | 2c

Fixer Upper

4pm | 3c

Fixer Upper

5pm | 4c

Fixer Upper

6pm | 5c

Fixer Upper

7pm | 6c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Fixer Upper

8pm | 7c

Fixer Upper

9pm | 8c

House Hunters

10pm | 9c

House Hunters

11pm | 10c

Fixer Upper

12am | 11c

House Hunters

1am | 12c

Fixer Upper

3am | 2c

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.