Holly facts: There's a bunch of sexy stuff!
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This winterberry holly (I. verticillata) is a
female. The button-center flowers tell the tale. The stamens
surrounding the button-like, female pistil in each flower are not
functional. No pollen develops there, as it does on the stamens of
- Dispelling a common misconception: Bloom is not dependent on
companionship. A plant of a dioecious species will bloom
even in isolation.
- One male holly plant can provide enough pollen to pollinate
many female plants.
- To match in leaf color or growth habit between holly lad and
lasses, stick with varieties of the same species. Male varieties
have been selected in most species -- some are 'Blue Prince',
'China Boy', and American tree holly 'John Boy.'
- Lady hollies are not particular, however! If a male plant of
any holly species is blooming at the same time as the
female and is within a few hundred feet -- bee flying range -- the
female flowers can develop into fruit. So your 'Blue Princess',
'China Girl' or 'Satyr Hill' tree holly might consort with
neighborhood males across species lines.
- Sometimes fruit on a lone plant: Some Chinese hollies (I.
cornuta) are parthenocarpic -- females can set fruit without a
- 'Berri-Magic' hollies are popular because they set fruit "even
if you plant just one." These are actually a male and female
cutting grown together in the same pot.
- For more about plant sex issues, see:
Concerns issue 494
Concerns issue 495
Concerns issue 500.