The Q&A Archives: Holly bushes

Question: Someone told me that when you buy holly bushes that you have to buy two because there are male and female bushes and for them to produce berries you must have one of each. Is this true and how do you tell the difference?

Answer: It's true - there are both male and female hollies and you need one of each in order to have the female produce berries. You can't tell by looking at the plants whether they are male or female, but you can make the determination by dissecting the flowers. 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. When you choose your hollies, they will be grouped together so finding a compatable male and female should be easy. For instance, you can have a Blue Girl and a Blue Boy or a Blue Princess and a Blue Prince in your garden. The female will produce berries if there's a compatable male around. Best wishes with your new hollies!

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