The Q&A Archives: Hollies

Question: I bought a blue girl and a blue boy holly bushes. One of them died and now I don't know which survived. I need to replace the one I need for pollination. How can I tell if I need the girl or the boy? I am a novice. Thank you. Patty

Answer: The only way to tell whether your remaining holly is male or female is to closely inspect the flowers. Holly flowers have four, or sometimes five, small white petals. The male flower has four prominent stamens, each composed of a filament (stalk) that supports an anther. The anthers release sticky yellow pollen. The ovary in male flowers is very small and not functional. The female flower has a prominent pistil made up of a stigma, style, and a large green ovary. Female flowers may have underdeveloped stamens, but they will not produce viable pollen. Or, you can wait to see whether your plant produces berries. If you have a female holly and there is a male holly in the neighborhood, yours will produce berries. On the other hand, if your remaining holly is a male, it will never produce berries, regardless of whether there are other hollies in the neighborhood.

Wish there were an easier way for you to tell!

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