The Q&A Archives: Holly berries

Question: The 9 feet tall holly tree at our new house developed beautiful clusters of blue berries this summer. Now, however, they are shriveling up, and some are dropping off. I am at a loss as to know what to do to save the few that are left. I surely hope you can help me on this matter.

Answer: You must be growing Oregon grape holly (Mahonia aquifolium) rather than an English or American holly (Ilex) because most holly berries are red or orange. Oregon Grape Holly bears shiny green, spiny leaves that turn a rich burgundy in the fall. Blue berries follow clusters of bright yellow spring flowers. The berries should remain on the plant until eaten by local wildlife, but if the plant is water stress, the berries will shrivel up and drop off the plant. You can help stop the process if you water your plant deeply on a regular basis (1-2 times a week, depending upon weather).

Best wishes with your garden!

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