The Q&A Archives: holly shrubs.

Question: How does one determine the gender of a holly shrub for
planting purposes?

Answer: 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. It's possible to graft either a male or female branch onto an existing holly to produce berries, or to purchase one of the newer self-fertile hollies, so you only have to have one plant in order to have berries.

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